From the time I was a child, I have always been an independent person. I even remember jerking away from my mother as she tried to help me tie my shoes, saying, “I do it!” In the world, independence is a good thing. It keeps us responsible for our own affairs and moving toward a life away from our parents’ couch. As Christians, though, we must remember that ultimately, it’s not always up to us to do things on our own. Instead, it is in our very own weakness that God shows Himself strong. Recently, God taught me that lesson by answering a prayer I did not pray.
The Set Up
That day I had gone to Costco to pick up a few items, and I found a great deal on water. Getting the giant pack into my cart wasn’t hard because I was able to use gravity to swing it down from the tall stack with a thump. Getting it out of the cart would prove to be another matter. I’m not physically strong at all, and after securing everything else into my vehicle, I found myself alone in that parking lot trying to lift that water. I would strain and get the heavy pack almost up to the top of the cart…before watching helplessly as it fell back down.
Then the verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 popped into my head. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’…” So I said a prayer: “Lord, if your strength is made perfect in my weakness, give me the strength to lift this heavy pack of water out of my cart.” I lifted again, harder than before, with the same results.
After a few more tries, panting and grunting and bulging my eyes, a family pulled up a few spaces away. It was a mom, a dad, and a teenaged boy. Without any prompting, the boy came directly over to my cart and offered to lift the water. A moment later it was done, and I thanked him profusely. He even took my cart back to the corral for me. I considered the situation. I had prayed for God to give me some sort of burst of supernatural strength to lift the heavy item for myself, but I really just wanted the water in the truck. God had answered the prayer I did not pray, sending instead another pair of stronger arms.
I then reconsidered the verse. It’s not about God making us strong enough to do things for ourselves. It’s about leaning on His provision to get things done. He never promised to take away our weakness. He promised to meet our needs despite them. Too many times, I realized, I really just want to be able to do things myself. It’s easier, somehow, not to involve other people in my own messy life, but God doesn’t work that way. If I had been able to lift the water myself, I would not have witnessed God moving on my behalf, and that boy would not have received the blessing of helping a stranger in need. I also realized that at other times, I am the one who is blessed when God sends me to help.
I think that’s where the rest of Paul’s sentiment comes from. “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God delights in taking care of His children and shows Himself strong on their behalf. The very weakness we see as a hindrance is sometimes just an opportunity for God to work in our lives.
Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray, a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see Hope For Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy in Trials, a new way to pray for lost loved ones.
Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.