For the first few months of the year, I spent most of my Sunday evenings talking to a group of women at my church about how God uses the trials and struggles in our lives to make us more useful to Him.
The content of the class, which largely grew out of my years in the wilderness, has been simmering in my mind and heart for a long time. At the outset, the thought of writing 10 hour-long lessons was a bit intimidating because I had never done anything like that before. But I had what I felt like was a clear calling from God, along with friends and family members who were committed to praying for me. So although I knew it would be a challenge, I was excited about doing it.
I expected the class to be a lot of work. I expected that some of my usual activities would be put on hold as I concentrated on writing the lessons. I even expected a bit of spiritual opposition here and there.
What I did not expect, however, was that I would be thrown for a loop on a near-weekly basis by unforeseen and somewhat disruptive developments.
• For the first and only time in 22 years of marriage and almost 14 years of parenting, someone in my house was diagnosed with Influenza A—the sickness that the flu shot is supposed to prevent.
• My minivan started making a noise that got steadily worse. It needed a new wheel bearing—a rather routine fix—that eventually required three trips to the repair shop.
• Older daughter Lilly came down with tendonitis in her foot, which resulted in a two-month break from her beloved ballet class. Then younger daughter Molly fell down the back porch steps and fractured her foot. The doctor appointments that ensued resulted in one daughter in a cast and the other wearing a boot for three solid weeks.
• One Thursday morning, a friend called to tell me that new boundaries our local school district was considering potentially could send the girls to a high school across town (instead of the one we can practically see from our street). The school board later chose another option, but the idea was enough to upset my equilibrium for a few days.
• There was even a stretch of time in there where we didn’t get our daily newspaper for more than a week. As insignificant as that sounds, the annoyance it caused just added to my frustration level.
Caring for sick and injured children, taking the car to the shop, tracking down missing newspapers and even attending school boundary meetings are all part of my job as mom and house manager. These things aren’t interruptions to my work; they ARE my work. And normally, I just take what each day comes and try to make the best of it.
But what made this stream of little disturbances exponentially worse was what happening to me internally. As the weeks of the class went on, I started to feel foggy brained, stressed out, exhausted, overwhelmed and—at times—completely stuck.
Ironically, this was exactly how I used to feel back in the wilderness. This time, though, there was no plausible physical explanation for my mental and emotional funk. Instead, it seemed I had become a metaphor for much of my class material.
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching on Sunday nights. But Monday mornings would often find me feeling depressed and wanting to quit. I doubted myself and my ability to teach. I questioned my fitness to address the hard topics. I wondered if what I was experiencing was spiritual warfare, and then promptly wondered what made me think my meager efforts warranted such interference.
I was a mess. But along the way, I was also bolstered by the prayers and encouragement of kind people, as well as a specific set of instructions from a most unlikely scriptural source.
It just so happened that my Bible-reading plan placed me smack-dab in the middle of Kings and Chronicles during that time. One especially discouraging week, I arrived at 1 Chronicles 28, where David is commissioning Solomon to build the temple.
After telling his son to serve God with a “whole heart and a willing mind,” David says this: “Realize now that the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10).
That last sentence bounced off the page and made a beeline for my weary heart.
Don’t sit around waiting for the fog to clear. Be strong and do it.
Don’t worry about the opposition. Be strong and do it.
The distractions and frustrations aren’t going to stop. Be strong and do it.
I kept reading to the end of the chapter, where I found this:
“Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished” (I Chronicles 28:20).
Those words were spoken to Solomon about a specific project, but they applied to me that day, and perhaps to you now.
Maybe we don’t feel strong at all. (I usually don’t.) And maybe that’s on purpose.
First Corinthians 12:10 puts it bluntly: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
Call it irony. Call it paradox. I don’t care what you call it, just remember it.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
His grace is sufficient.
He goes before us.
He is with us.
I don’t know what unexpected event, issue or struggle is throwing you for a loop and messing with your ability to do what you need to do today.
I do know this, though. You might not be able to do it alone, but you can do it.
Be strong and courageous and do the work.
Be strong and do it.
P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Crystal Storms at Intentional Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at #ThoughtProvokingThursday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.