2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I know I have not written in my blog much lately. This has been a very busy term, but also a very hard term. I have had a hard time knowing what to write.
I feel like I get knocked down and I stand back up only to be knocked down again. I have felt like I could not endure any more blows. I have felt like it was time for me to stay down and stop standing up again. So, for a while that is exactly what I did. I laid still. I felt like Elijah when he was fleeing Jezebel. I felt like I was ready to give up the fight and lay below the Juniper tree as he did. But just as God sent an angel to gently minister to Elijah. God has sent dear friends to minister to my soul. I have been bathed in scripture, prayed for, listened to, cared for, and cried for. And just as God showed Elijah that He was to be found in the gentle breeze, God has gently shown me new things about His character and new things about His love for me.
Over this term, I have felt very alone at times as I imagine Elijah did when he hid in the cave and told God that He alone was left of those who worshipped the one true God. But just as God revealed to Elijah that He had 7000 men in Israel who had not bowed a knee to Baal, God showed me that I am surrounded by people who love me and seek to serve the cause of Christ. He showed me His sovereign power over my life and my ministry and most importantly, God showed me His own love for me.
A few weeks ago, I think I would have said that this is our worst term ever. Today, I am saying this is our hardest term ever, but it may very well be our best term. I am learning to praise God for all that He allows in my life, even what seems bad. I am learning that serving Him is a privilege no matter the cost. I am learning that suffering for Him is an honor and I am learning that suffering allows us to connect with Christ and with other servants in a way that nothing else can. I am learning what Paul meant when He said that when I am weak, I am strong.
Throughout church history, persecution has been used to purify the church and His people. I have seen the same thing in my life. I have seen God using persecution to purify the ministry of Grace Gardens and to purify me. The refiners fire is painful, but the result is priceless.
Lately I have been meditating on who God is and how incredible it is that He entered our world to suffer and die for us. This great love He has for us that He would lay down His life for our own. And then indwell each of the redeemed through the Holy Spirit. Giving us the privilege of being an intricate part of His work in each other’s lives. I can’t even fathom the wonderfulness of this, yet I reap the benefits of it daily. When I get to lay my hands on a woman who knows nothing of salvation and get to pray for her, both her and I feel the power of the risen savior working. When I am heartbroken and a sister in Christ comes to hug me and to cry with me, the spirit that is in her is what comforts my soul. What a privilege to be a part of this incredible work of Christ both as a recipient and as a participant.
I wholeheartedly believe that God is the one who brought me to Nigeria and the one who led me to start Grace Gardens. It is therefore His job to keep me here and His ministry to sustain. If God no longer wants me here, then it is the last place I want to be. To live is Christ and to die is gain. With this mindset, how can anyone or anything hurt me. I am but a bondservant who considers it a joy to encounter trials, for the trials are where my God meets me most intimately. I am content with my weakness and relishing in His power! I truly am living the dream!