“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
(2 Corinthians 12:9a)
WHEN YOU CAN’T IMAGINE LIVING LIKE THIS: A LAMENT
A few weeks ago, my arms completely gave out as I was getting ready for the day. I couldn’t even get dressed by myself. I was exhausted, and it wasn’t even nine in the morning. I didn’t want to go on like this. What was this day going to hold?
I cried out to the Lord, telling him that all of this felt colossally unfair. I ended my lament by declaring, “I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I just can’t do it!” I felt frustrated and angry and overwhelmed all at the same time. I realize that may sound deeply unspiritual, but that’s how I felt. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with these physical struggles.
After my lament, I was quiet. I had said all I wanted to say. Then I waited. I’m not sure if I was expecting a response from God, but I knew I needed to be still and listen.
PEACE IN THE SILENCE
In the silence, the words, “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today,” came to my mind. It felt like God was speaking directly to me.
Immediately, an unmistakable sense of peace settled over me. My situation was unchanged, but I felt strangely different.
Today was a finite period that I could focus on.
Today seemed doable.
Today was much less frightening than “the rest of my life.”
Coping with anything today seemed possible — possible, that is, with God.
Following the flood of relief that washed over me, I thought of those words again:
“I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life.
I’m just asking you to live like this today.”
Could they have been God’s words to me? Were they consistent with God’s character? What does Scripture say about the words that came to me?
GOD MEETS OUR NEEDS TODAY
I remembered that Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God will meet our needs today. His grace is available for today. We are not to be anxious about the future, or even tomorrow, for every day has its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).
- The widow of Zarephath’s oil and flour were miraculously available as long as she needed them. (1 Kings 17:14-16).
- After Hezekiah prayed, 185,000 Assyrians were killed by the angel of the Lord without Israel even going to battle. (2 Kings 19:35).
- Gideon defeated the vast army of the Midianites with only 300 men (Judges 7).
Humanly speaking, none of these Biblical characters could see a way out of their situation. Oftentimes, we don’t either, but with God, all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).
God reassured me that I didn’t need to despair over the future — but he wasn’t reassuring me that my circumstances would change if I trusted him. He was asking me to trust him for tomorrow and to endure today.
Just today. “How can I manage today?” I wondered? Today still loomed before me with all its difficulties.
GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT WHEN YOU CAN’T IMAGINE LIVING LIKE THIS
I was reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for me, that his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11), that I needed to wait for him: he would strengthen me (Isaiah 40:30) and supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). If I would draw near to him, then he would draw near to me (James 4:8).
As I go through my day, I need to rejoice in what God is doing, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks even in difficult circumstances, knowing all of this is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Rejoicing in trials is not easy for me. I must deliberately focus on what God is doing in the midst of them. I must remind myself that although my trials seem heavy and endless, they are light and momentary in relation to eternity — and they are preparing for me a weight of glory that is beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
TRUST GOD MOMENT BY MOMENT
When my struggles feel relentless, they force me to trust God day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. Pain, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, has a way of capturing my attention. I can either focus that attention on myself and sink into despair, or I can direct my thoughts to Jesus, and ask him for grace.
That moment-by-moment dialogue with God changes me. I see his sufficiency and his glory in ways that I would otherwise never have (2 Corinthians 3:18). Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.
How did my day end up? Honestly, it was hard. My husband, Joel, helped me get dressed. I had enough energy to drive my modified minivan to massage therapy, which I desperately needed. The therapist was waiting at the door to walk me in, something she’d never done before. Immediately, I saw how God was providing for me.
Back at home, Joel got me everything I needed. Things did not go the way I would have chosen, however: I had trouble concentrating. I was in intermittent pain. I felt frustrated at my weakness.
GOD MEETS MY NEEDS EVERY DAY
All I could do was cry out to God — and do the next thing. I understood more clearly what it meant to be “afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8,9b). While the day was hard, God ensured it would not crush me.
My pain and strength ebb and flow daily, so I often don’t know what to expect until I get out of bed. This has been true of emotional pain as well. Even when the day holds suffering, I am comforted to know that God is not asking me to live with this pain and weakness for the rest of my life. He is just asking me to live with it today. Some days he will do abundantly more than all I can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20), and other days, he will sustain me in the storm — but every day, he will provide all that I need.
*First published at the blog of Vaneetha Risner on January 18, 2018. Published by permission.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner
Vaneetha writes and speaks about meeting God in suffering. She is the author of The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering and her memoir, Walking Through Fire. You can find her writing at Desiring God and Vaneetha.com. Vaneetha lives in North Carolina with her husband Joel. She has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. Watch Choosing Joy in Suffering from Diamonds 2019.
13 Verses to Lean Into
Lean into these verses, write them in a journal, choose one or two to memorize, and then think about who else might need to read them too. The Word of God is alive and powerful, able to bring us comfort in a way that nothing else can.