Boasting of Weakness
Have you ever heard God say something to you, and dreaded it? Have you ever known a situation to be inevitable, yet when it comes you are surprised? Well there are at least two instances in my life where I have experienced this.
First was the time I fell in love. I was young when God revealed to me the man I would marry. And I wanted to marry him the minute I knew. But there was this “thought” in the back of my head that I would not actually marry until I was twenty-one years old. (Geesh, that old? I know, I know.) I cannot describe it to you well, but I knew that “thought” was God’s voice. And of course, those four years I waited felt like eternity. But in the end it was perfect timing.
The second time came to pass just yesterday. For several years I have “known” (somehow?) that I would experience some terrible medical struggle, cancer specifically. And I confess this is a huge fear of mine, probably the most terrifying possibility I could imagine. I have never had a surgery, or been to the Emergency Room, or experienced any sort of real health problem… Until the past year.
In the past year I have had three serious allergic reactions while outside running. Like eyes and throat swell shut and can’t breathe sort of serious. I have not been to an allergist yet to determine the source of these reactions, but I know it is some specific sort of pollen.
But last week I went to the dermatologist for the first time in my life. I had several, not-so-serious things I wanted checked out, and one that was more pressing. There was a dark spot on my leg that had developed over the last year. Right away my doctor wanted it biopsied. So yesterday I get the call with the results. The spot was malignant melanoma. Dun dun dun, skin cancer! That’s it! And as horrified as I am, somehow I am not all that surprised. It’s as if God told me this would happen.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
Oswald Chambers said, in response to this verse in 1 Peter, “Rise to the occasion—do what the trial demands of you. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your body.” Now I am not saying God willed for me to have skin cancer, that I do not know. But I know that He is sovereign, and His thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are His ways my ways.
I think the reason is in what Chambers said, “as long as it gives God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your body.” Now I will not pretend that I fully “get” this, or that it makes it much easier. I am still sorting it all out in my head. I have moments of feeling angry, scared, and resentful. In reality, I won’t know any specifics about my condition until my next appointment. And I still cling to the hope that God could take this away from me.
However, if for some reason I am meant to suffer, then I am meant to suffer. His grace is sufficient, that I am sure I will learn the full meaning of.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:5-10)
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Jesus, Matthew 26:39)