This week, many of us are thinking of ways we can live more exemplary lives in 2014. As we all resolve to do better, we need to remember we can’t do it in our own strength. One of our pastors recently quoted a church member who has cancer. The man said, “Pray that God will protect me from me, from thinking I can handle this on my own.”
The apostle Paul was also afflicted with a “tormenting” malady. He begged God to remove the affliction, but the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response? “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 (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).”
Looking ahead, I like to think about all the good things that might occur in 2014 and all the great projects I hope to undertake and complete. Sure, I want Christ’s power to “rest on me,” but I don’t envision hardships and difficulties—or myself delighting in those challenges. Yet, distress and heartache will come. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33).”
The good news is that he added, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus the OMNIPOTENT OVERCOMER is our strength. Along with Paul and the cancer-struck gentleman, we can say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
Another church member caught in the midst of the same struggle said, “My cancer has caused the background noise to fade away.” What is the background noise in my life? In your life? I’m reminded of the chorus in an old hymn titled Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus as well as several Old Testament scriptures.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
“In quietness and trust is your strength (Isaiah 30:15).”
“Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).”
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).”
I don’t think those verses suggest we spend our lives in solitude and meditation. Our Creator knows that the daily requirements of maintaining our existence and relationships on Planet Earth keep us hopping. But amidst the busyness, we can admit our weakness, rest in his love, trust him, quiet our spirits, focus on him rather than background noise—and find strength.
Intentional living is a good thing. I admire and appreciate each person who resolves to live a useful, productive, God-honoring life. With the psalmist, I say, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20:4).” Yet, we can’t forget who controls the outcome. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).”