“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay . You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:7-11).”
Last night as I walked out of the hospital, I was pretty upset. Someone close to me was suffering, and I didn’t like it at all.
As I walked toward my car, I looked to my right and there was a car with a license plate which read “Thy Grace”. It was clear to me that this person was seeking to communicate in short the following passage from the Bible:
“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 (II Corinthians 12:9,10).”
(In context, Paul wrote that he had received the above reply after he had pleaded with the Lord to remove some infirmity in his life.)
I was encouraged by that license plate and the thought from that verse. I drove home in the darkness in much better spirits.
In looking at that passage, though, I wonder if I really believe what the apostle Paul has written. Is it really possible to delight in my problems? Is it true that I am stronger through my weaknesses and suffering?
I can only answer these questions in the affirmative if I truly believe that God’s power is actually perfected through my weakness. What Paul is saying is that Jesus can only really affect my life when I am enfeebled, vulnerable, ineffective, and even prostrate. Can I really buy into this?
What Paul has written only makes sense to me if I see my own capacities and abilities as insufficient, especially when compared with those of Jesus. What I understand from the apostle’s writings is that Jesus can only get a grip on my problems when I lose mine.
When I give Him complete authority to handle things as He sees fit, I relinquish control. I give up my own fallen hold on my life and hand it over to Jesus.
With Him in charge, His infinite power and strength can come through in my life and in the lives of those around me. When I jump back in the driver’s seat and take over again as the wheels of my life veer out of control, I end up in a wreck.
Practically, this means many things to me. It means when I am broke, I trust Him for provision. It means when I my relationships are hurting , I depend on Him to arrange their healing. When I am tempted to sin, it indicates I surrender to His will for me, not my own.
What I learned last night is that when I am open to Him, God can communicate with me and comfort me. This is a function of His Spirit, which indwells me and with Whom He works with to speak His truth to me (John 16:12-15).
Jesus communicated another truth to me this morning. He again did it through a license plate. This one read “No Wynnin”, i.e. “No Whining”.
The Lord is telling me to quit complaining and actually take pleasure in my inability to withstand the strains and attacks of this fallen world. In fact, He is even saying to brag about my problems.
Jesus doesn’t impress these things on me because He expects me to be a masochist. He just knows it’s the only way I can truly be strong in life.
Thank God for license plates, and for His Spirit.