“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.”
When my second son was born I was exhausted. He cried nearly all of the time and I was completely overwhelmed. The inadequate feeling that I had of not being able to console my child broke my heart and frequently brought me to tears. I was a few weeks into the weary cycle of him crying and then me crying about him crying, when God gently reminded me that I needed to stop relying on my own abilities and to start relying on His.
It was late one night when I first remember praying, “God, please give me the endurance to get through just one more feeding”. This simple, yet desperate prayer was all that I could think to ask for at the time. I knew that if God could get me through the next hour, then He would be faithful to get me through the ones that would follow. This type of moment-to-moment complete dependence on the Lord is where our relationship with Him matures. When we finally recognize our own inability, we are better able to witness the Lord’s ability and we are drawn closer to Him because of it.
In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul discusses how he was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. This tormenting thorn was used by God to protect Paul from prideful self-reliance and it encouraged him to continually seek the Lord. Our pride can cause us to think that we don’t need to rely on God at all times, so it is good for us to experience hardships if those hardships encourage us to live in a more constant fellowship with the Lord.
As I prepare for the birth of our third boy in November, I’ve been reflecting on the hardships of those early days with my son. However, what I now remember most, is how the Lord met me in my weakness and how moment-by-moment, tear-by-tear, He incrementally got me through that difficult time. When I felt helpless and inadequate as a mom, God lavished me with His grace by reminding me that these challenges did not make me a failure, they simply revealed my need for Him.
Paul received a similar response from the Lord as he prayed about his thorn. God didn’t remove the problem that Paul was facing, instead He reassured Paul that He would provide for him through the problem. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In our lives, there may be times when God allows us to experience seasons of great weakness, when we will feel helpless, hopeless and unable to continue on. In those times, our always good God may be accomplishing His perfect will for us by providing us with an opportunity to become more dependent upon Him. When this happens, His grace becomes our endurance, our strength, our encouragement, our peace, and so on. In these ways His power is displayed through our weakness and moment-by-moment we will grow to love Him more for it.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
To be completely honest with you, throughout the past month or so, I’ve been struggling with my thoughts on prayer. Praying is something my parents taught me to do as a child and I have continued to do it to this day. However, I have recently been struggling with the answer to the question of why I am supposed to pray, if God’s plan is going to happen no matter what? Ironically, in my questioning about prayer, I prayed and asked God to help me with this (I am so thankful that God welcomes our questions and guides us through them).
So as I started looking for clarity on this issue, God led me to the Desiring God podcast with John Piper, titled, “If God is Sovereign, Are My Prayers Pointless?” Piper specifically addresses this issue by giving three biblical reasons as to why we should pray, even though God’s sovereign plans will prevail. His reasons were as follows: Because God tells us to (John 15:7), because if we don’t pray, we may not get what we want, that is according to His will (James 4:2), and because God plans our prayers like He plans the answers to our prayers (Luke 22:32).
I was encouraged as I listened to this, and knew God was using it to strengthen my unbelief, but there was still something inside of me that was unsettled. Then, God so graciously gave me a beautiful illustration to help me better understand it. He brought to mind the idea of making cupcakes with my children. Baking is something I enjoy doing and I could easily make cupcakes all by myself, without the help of my children. It would be easier, less messy, and more peaceful. However, knowing that my children enjoy baking with me, I choose to include them in the process.
Some good things can come from baking together. For instance, my children can learn math facts as we count and measure ingredients, and we can grow in our relationship by spending time together. We can also have a few bumps along the way, like one of them spilling eggs or fighting over who gets to stir the batter first. Finally, when the cupcakes are done and ready to eat, my children will enjoy these cupcakes more because they got to take part in making them and now have new memories of making them together.
As I thought of this illustration in relation to God and our prayers, I realized that God doesn’t have to involve us at all. Because He loves us, desires for us to learn and grow in relationship with Him, and wants us to be a part of the process of seeing our prayers answered, He includes us, even if we have “bumps” along the way. As John Piper said in that same podcast, “He’s granting us the dignity of joining with Him in glorifying Himself as part of the cause of all that He does.” It is truly humbling that God listens to our prayers and acts on behalf of them. May we never stop being a part of that amazing process!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
A few weeks ago, I was going to meet one of my daughters and granddaughters for a fun outing before she went back to school. I was a mile from my house when flashing lights suddenly appeared behind me. I quickly pulled over and an officer approached my car. He informed me that he clocked me going 15 miles over the speed limit. YIKES!!
The officer returned to his unmarked patrol car and I waited in my car considering all the dismal consequences - an expensive ticket; increase in insurance rates; a 4-hour online traffic class; berating myself for not being more careful; being late to meet my granddaughter and of course having to explain to my husband!
When the officer returned and handed me my paperwork, he said, “I am not giving you a ticket today, but please be more careful!” (Translation: Go and speed no more!) At that point, I thanked him profusely and drove away in tears. The officer had the authority to issue a hefty ticket and yet he chose to withhold the penalty of my actions. He extended grace!
I suddenly felt unworthy to receive grace. I would have felt better about getting caught if I had received a ticket and had to pay it because I deserved to be punished and receive all the negative consequences. That sounds pretty foolish - but don’t we think that way sometimes? We did something wrong, so now we must deserve everything bad that happens to us and are unworthy of forgiveness or love. That is rejecting the grace that is offered to us.
Grace can be considered as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Isaiah 53:5 explains Christ’s expense, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus was pierced and crushed for our transgressions and iniquities and the punishment and wounds that He took for us, brought us peace and healing. Grace is most needed in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. Grace is a gift from God (Eph. 2:28) and in essence, it is getting what we don’t deserve.
God’s grace is woven throughout Scripture. David committed adultery and murder but when Nathan the prophet confronted him and David repented, he was told, “The Lord has taken away your sin.…” (2 Sam. 12:13) Grace!
When the people brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus and wanted her stoned, Jesus said that if anyone was without sin, they should be the first to throw a stone at her. Because everyone had sinned, they all walked away. When Jesus asked her if anyone condemned her and she said no, He declared, “Then neither do I condemn you….Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11) Grace!
When Saul was killing and persecuting followers of Christ and was searching to find more people to kill and imprison, Jesus met him on the road and struck him with blindness. The Lord said that Saul was His “chosen instrument.” Later, He healed Saul of his blindness, changed his name to Paul and used him powerfully for His kingdom. (Acts 9:15) Grace!
Grace is a gift - we cannot earn it, cannot buy and are not entitled to it. The only way we receive grace is with humility. Poured out and broken, realizing that no matter what we have done, our Heavenly Father allowed His Son to suffer and die for us so that we can know His amazing grace. Through repentance, we have our sins taken away, we can live in victory and not condemnation and we are His chosen instrument. When we humbly walk in His grace, God Almighty receives all the glory!
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.