If you have ever felt weak and frustrated, you will identify with my situation. It all started with a dream. I don’t remember much except the part where I was wearing one regular shoe and one super big shoe. I woke up thinking, “You’re trying to do things in your own strength.” From there, God would give me an object lesson, several Bible verses, and a week filled with what can only be described as helpless exasperation. He was teaching me the hard way what I hope to impart to you here. God’s grace is our strength.
The Object Lesson
The shoe dream was Saturday morning. Sunday morning in the wee hours, I woke up a little chilly. I noticed that the sheet was only half covering my body, so I pulled. Nothing happened. I pulled again. It didn’t budge. My husband was sleeping on the sheet, and I wasn’t strong enough to pull it out from under him. I thought for a minute. Maybe if I scootched closer to him, I could get covered that way. No, that didn’t work either. I gained a couple inches, but it wasn’t enough. Short of waking him up and asking him to move (which wouldn’t be nice), I was helpless.
It suddenly occurred to me that it might be an object lesson. After all, God’s message to me the day before was about how I try to do things in my own strength. Maybe He was showing me the solution. What was the opposite of my own strength? God’s strength! So, I prayed for God to help. Nothing happened – at least at first. But the simple act of admitting my own weakness, praying to God for help, and giving the situation completely to Him did something IN ME. I was confident that, as object lessons go, He would do a work. And He did. A few minutes later, my husband shifted just enough for me to pull the covers over my legs and snuggle back down to sleep.
God’s Grace is Our Strength
Looking back on it now, it all seems so clear. When we’re weak and can’t do things for ourselves, we need to:
- Admit to God that we are weak and need Him
- Pray for Him to help us
- Give Him the situation, taking the responsibility off ourselves and placing it on to Him
- Wait confidently for Him to move on our behalf, giving Him glory and praising His name.
Easy, right? Well, it’s easy if you’re nothing like me.
Too Often, I Want Control
My problem, and I’m convinced I’m not alone here, is that I want control. Vanilla Ice used to sing, “If there is a problem, yo, I’ll solve it!” I totally relate. This week, my problem was that I had the dream and the object lesson, and God kept bringing scripture after scripture to my attention. But I had no idea how to apply them to my life, much less how to put them together as a blog. How could God’s grace be our strength? What did that MEAN in practical terms?
God Gave Me Verses
The evening after my object lesson, I went to write my experiences in my journal and happened to notice the Bible verse printed at the bottom of the page.
“The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”Exodus 15:2
In the commentaries, Benson says, “Happy, therefore, the people whose God is the Lord: they are weak in themselves, but He strengthens them; his grace is their strength. They are oft in sorrow, but in Him they have comfort. He is their song. Sin and death threaten them, but He is and will be their salvation.”
2 Timothy 2:1
The next day, I went to read my Bible at the bookmark and found this one.
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”2 Timothy 2:1
Matthew Henry’s commentary says we must “be strengthened” or have a “willing trust” to “rely on and receive from Christ via His CEO so to speak, the Holy Spirit, the grace which equates with spiritual power to accomplish God’s desire for our life. In short, we are 100% dependent on God while at the same time 100% responsible to complete the good work God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus.”
Finally, a couple of days later, a Facebook friend posted this verse.
“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”Isaiah 40:29
Ellicott’s commentary says God gives power to the faint “to them pre-eminently – their very consciousness of weakness being the condition of their receiving strength.”
My Week of Frustration
I spent the week attempting – in my own strength – to understand what God was trying to tell me. Surely, I reasoned, if I read enough commentaries and applied my full mental capacity, I could get it. I went round and round with questions like, “Is it depending on God’s grace that gives us mental and emotional strength to go on? Or is it an actual move of God to affect change that is the grace (and the strength)? What does that look like in practice either way?” I was frustrated because it was completely beyond me to figure out what He was trying to say. At one point, I thought of the line from The Grinch that Stole Christmas: “And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore.”
After a few days, it dawned on me I was doing the exact thing God said I was doing at the start. I was trying to do it in my own strength. I finally saw the futility of my actions. There was NO WAY I was going to get it without God’s intervention. If He didn’t reveal it, I would NEVER know. So, I completely gave the situation to God… only to find myself picking it back up again. I had to do it about three times, but finally I backed away from it enough for God to grab it. I told Him “thank you” and that I knew He would help me see in His timing. After that, I made a point to spend my time in worship instead of worry. Finally, He had mercy on me and allowed me to understand.
Making the Application
And how many times in my life could I apply this? When I’m frustrated that what I see in my own life and behavior is so far short of what I see in the Bible despite doing my best? When the enemy has me on the hot seat with a play by play of all the ways I wasn’t a good witness for Christ to those around me? Or how about when I try my hardest to hear God and follow Him but fall short of either the hearing or the doing? When my best effort isn’t enough, more effort (and frustration) isn’t the answer. God’s grace is. What are your areas of weakness?
God’s Grace is Our Strength
God has chosen the weak things on purpose to show Himself strong. When we admit that we can’t do things on our own, that qualifies us to receive His power. When we step away from the responsibility of our situation, that releases us from the frustration of doing the same thing again and again in failure. Waiting and trusting in Him with praise and thanksgiving is the equivalent of bringing our big brother back to the playground to face our bullies. We may not be able to affect change on our own, but knowing God is with us and for us gives us the mental, emotional, and spiritual strength to take another step another day. And when God decides to move in His timing, He will accomplish more than we could ever dream.
If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It compares aspects of the Christian life to a dishwasher. Or, try Sanctification & the Christian Life: An Analogy. Cleaning my filthy patio table taught me about the process of sanctification. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email. Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.