Devotions for Times of Crisis ~ Day 8: "I Didn't Ask for This!"
“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 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 a crisis we find ourselves crying out to God, “I didn’t ask for this!” But who does ask for crises to come into their lives? Yet the cry itself isn’t a statement about whether we wanted the present storm to come into our lives, it’s a cry that laments the injustice of it all, the grand scale of it all, the recognition that something has happened that has permanently altered what we perceive to be the course of our lives. It is, in a fundamental sense, an accusation against God. It’s holding him responsible for the hurricane in our life, and charging Him with injustice.
In that regard it is something that we must seek God’s forgiveness for, because God does not deal with us in unjust ways. The more fundamental pain being expressed in this cry, though, is a sense of helplessness. And that isn’t something we need to repent of, it’s something that we need to bring to God and lay at His feet.
In the end, we are helpless over many of the events that happen in our lives. Nothing shows that better than calamities like loss of health, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a significant relationship, loss of economic security, or any of the other major problems that come into our lives. We are completely powerless to prevent these calamities from hitting us. But we are not powerless in dealing with them. Oh, it often feels like we are powerless to deal with them, and the gnawing anxiety that eats at us is the result of that. But the truth is that we have real power to find our way through these dark moments of life because we belong to God, who has power over all things.
Like St. Paul, who dealt with a “thorn in the flesh”, we discover that God’s grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in weakness. It is when we are most down that God’s resurrecting power is made most clearly visible to us. When we are most down, He is most there for us in ways we would never have anticipated. Crises have a way of reordering our priorities in life, of reminding us of our inherent helplessness in life, of reminding us of our utter dependency on God and our fundamental need for Him.
J.R.R. Tolkien, in his book The Lord of the Rings creates a conversation between Frodo and Gandalf, two of the main characters, in which Frodo voices a sense of helplessness and fatalism due to the circumstances in life that have conspired to place him on a journey of great personal danger. “I didn’t ask for this!” says Frodo. “No one asks for the bad things that happen to them in their lives!” replies Gandalf, “It's what we do with the time we have that matters.” (paraphrased).
Likewise with Christians. No one asks for bad things to come into their lives. But we do have a choice on how we will deal with them. We can acquiesce in a state of defeatism, depression, and victimization, or we can face them in faith, with trust in God, and with the courage that He gives us.
In the Old Testament book of Job we meet Job as a man who is wealthy, wise, influential, godly and pious. In one day he loses his health, his wealth, and his seven children. Job’s response sets an example for us: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22).
St. Paul learned to glory in his weaknesses because through them His dependency on God – and thus the real source of his strength – was reinforced and the perfect power of God was made manifest. Paul and Job faced their calamities and troubles with faith and dependency on God. Let us pray that we will do the same. We didn’t ask for it, but now that the storm has entered our life we deal with it in faith and with the strength of God. He will take care of us through it all because He loves us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I didn’t ask for this darkness to come into my life. I feel helpless, angry, and defenseless. Take these emotions and deal with them, Lord, because I cannot. Remind me that your power is made perfect in my weakness, and give me strength to face this crisis with faith, hope, and trust in You. In your name I pray and rest. Amen.