Every new year, I’m encouraged to prayerfully choose a characteristic of Christ or a single verse to meditate and unravel throughout the coming year. For 2015, I chose to seek out examples of STRENGTH and how God’s divine power strengthens us when we are weak.
My “year verse” for 2015 has been 2 Corinthians 12:10
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.
If I had known how this verse would come alive to me, I’ll be completely honest…..I never would have continued to pray over it. In hindsight, I probably could have spared myself some pain if I had just tossed it aside and forsaken this truth. While I did see His strength throughout the pages of Scriptures using my favorite bible heroes, Jesus used my life to show me the truth of this verse. He branded my life with nothing but “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” to show me His STRENGTH.
This year has been the worst yet. I wish that were a hyperbole, a typo, an exaggeration, or something else altogether.
But this year has been an excruciating, heartbreaking year. I’ll spare you all the painful details, but the ocean tears I cried every night, the agony I poured out as I bashed the walls of my home, the heartache, brokenness, and depression I am enduring has certainly illustrated my weakness.
The journey into trusting God is made in increments, and no step is insignificant if it leads to greater trust.
Consider the foot-in-mouth diseased disciple Peter and his relationship with Jesus. Peter’s spiritual walk was as erratic as my own, but he kept taking small risks of faith until he came to trust Christ with his very life. The passion of trusting Christ enough to intimately connect our lives to Him comes to none of us without struggle (ugh!). One of my favorite accounts with Peter, found in Luke 5:1-11, shows the supernatural providence that God wants to do in ours lives as well.
Borrowing Peter’s fishing boat as a teaching illustration, Jesus commanded Peter to let down his nets in deeper water. Not attempting to hide his skepticism, Peter reluctantly drew up tons of fish almost flooding the boat. Impulsively, Peter threw himself at Jesus’ feet pleading “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”. This response struck me in a unique way as it led me to question: Why would Peter fearfully beg his Provider to leave? I believe Peter’s experience with Jesus’ divine power brought his own unholiness into sharp focus, and he wanted some distance between himself and that kind of righteousness.
I, too, so often shrink back from God, just as He’s powerfully intervening and drawing me into His rest.
The God we are to worship with reverence does not want our awe of Him to keep us from drawing near to receive His grace. Instead, God longs to bring us into reconciliation and a renewed oneness with Himself, though it cost Him the death of His Son to bring us home. This is the painfully beautiful gospel, able to banish our deepest fear of intimacy.
Why is intimacy so frightening to so many? I believe, that rather than risk being hurt again, a damaged, sinful woman, such as myself, is likely to guard herself against ever revealing or responding from her deepest heart and longing, settling instead for so much less in her intimate relationships than God ever intended her to enjoy. This is why I am so susceptible to pushing people away, to keeping them at arm’s length, and building indestructible self-protective walls.
It’s worth noting that Jesus’ interactions with women in Scriptures consistently address both their longing for and their fear of being intimately seen and known, particularly by God. The intimacy we were designed for is continually being sabotaged by our fear, and we keep running away from what we long to be running toward.
We desire oneness, yet flee the closeness.
Our desire for love collides with our horror of vulnerability, dreading its desire because we can’t control it. Our longing for love and this intimacy with Christ, puts us at the mercy of possible rejection, probable disappointment, and certain chaos.
I never would have chosen this “year verse” if I had known the pain I would go through, but I also never would have experienced the intimacy, the love, and the overwhelming grace of my Jesus either.
And that, I promise, I would never want to toss aside or forsake. I don’t know why God uses the “furnace of suffering” to bring about repentance or the intense, fiery trials to “bring us forth as gold” or the “trials of various kinds” to bring about steadfastness.
He designed us to know Him through our weakness.
And like Peter, I immediately asked Him to leave me, like all the others, because I was “not enough and too much”, for anyone else….so why did He stay? Why did He put up with me? Why has He not left me or forsaken me?
Because He’s not done with me yet.
I’m not healed from this year’s heartbreak. I’m not yet over the loss of several relationships. I’m not yet in the “Promised Land”. I have not yet made my desired “comeback”. I am not yet in the place I want to be. But if I’m not dead, God’s not done.
While 2015 was an agonizing year, I’m still looking forward to looking back at how God redeems this year, how He moves in my life, and brings true spiritual healing.
I’m not sure what this new year will bring or what I will become or where He will take me but I believe His goodness is what I need to emulate and aspire to. I may not know what I want to be, but I do know who I want to be. I want to have the excitement of a new believer, the wisdom of an elder, the boldness of a martyr and the meekness of a lamb. I want the faith of a precious child, the love of a mother, and the kindness of a missionary. I want to be forgiving like the Father, relentless like the Prophet, and welcoming like the Servant. I want to be leading like the King, zealous like a disciple, and gracious like the Son.
I want to be like Jesus. That is my new year’s “resolution”: I want to be more like Jesus than ever before!
Hannah is a 23-year-old Tucson native saved by the overwhelming grace of Christ. She has a degree in Chemistry and works as a multimedia intern for her church. She loves horses, country music, hiking, and planning road trips. Her favorite days consist of a great cup of coffee, a good book, and a comfy chair watching the rain pour. You can find Hannah blogging at http://hannahnoeldouglas.wordpress.com.