There are many circumstances in life that will remain a mystery as to why God allowed us to suffer or to feel weak. I thought that my incredibly hard third pregnancy was going to be one of those instances.
I had resigned myself to thinking that I would probably not have answers on this side of heaven for why I spent ten months being the most miserable I have ever been—from 24/7 nausea and vomiting at the beginning to extreme back and leg pain at the end—to say I had a rough time was an understatement. Throw in getting really sick three times, a broken toe, a breech baby, and going one week overdue, I did a lot of questioning God. A lot of asking “why.”
I was grateful for a healthy baby. I was grateful for the GIFT of a baby. But I felt like I should be strong enough to handle the trials that God was giving me.
It took me until now, four months after my beautiful, perfect baby was born, to figure out the purpose of that suffering. This week in my devotional a certain topic came up, then I read a blog about the same thing, and then a friend brought up the same theme in conversation. My old self would have said “What a strange coincidence.” But I have grown enough in my faith lately to KNOW that it was God so strongly nudging me towards an answer.
You see, throughout my pregnancy, I relied on a Bible verse from Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s what got me through the unknown. It helped me to let go of thinking that I was in control and really trusting God’s plans.
I was humbled for sure, by all the trials and pain and ways I had to rely on my husband to help me with the household and our other two children. I came to learn to give myself grace and accept God’s grace. We even gave the baby Grace as her middle name.
It turns out though that I wish I would have been focusing on another Bible verse, another story from the Bible. A story of weakness. We all have heard “for when I was weak, then I was strong.” But what does that actually mean?
In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about all the ways he has suffered. But he goes on to boast about his weaknesses, because he explains that they allowed him to feel and experience the strength of God. You see, God doesn’t want us to rely on our own strength when we endure hardships. He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (There’s that grace again!) Turns out–it’s not about us! Our weakness allows God’s greatness to be seen.
The depth of the verse 2 Corinthians 12:10 is finally apparent to me. It’s beautiful: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In going through a hard time, my friend and I came up with these encouraging words, “My heart is open to God. He is developing me to trust Him and lean on Him. He has a plan for me to prosper, will not harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. There is beauty in the waiting. I grow strong in my weakness by depending on Him, trusting him to guide me and strengthen me as needed. His plan is greater than my own.”
So I want to encourage you friends. It’s ok to not feel strong, or brave, when facing hard times. God needs your weakness so that you can feel HIS strength. It’s ok to cry. It’s okay to feel all the emotions. I learned that by allowing myself to be humble and accepting when I was feeling weak, I could better feel God’s strength and power and grace. I pray that you can feel the same.