I intended to write a post encouraging all those going through final exams to be diligent and worshipful, yet this morning I felt stricken with worries myself. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been droning through my days recently—walking, talking, and studying without much purpose or direction. At night I usually don’t sleep very well, but recently I’ve been waking up with various body aches and pains as if all my emotional stress needed a way to physically manifest itself. I’ve had a sore neck and tense shoulders for days now. I’m in one of those funks and I feel it.
The simple explanation for this has been uncertainty (on top of other things), namely uncertainty about my future. As I wait to hear back from graduate schools, I’m noticing that I care a lot more than I thought I did. It’s easy to tell people that my contentment is in the Lord and that acceptance into a certain school wouldn’t affect my faith. Yet rejection is never easy and I find myself preparing for it more and more. Feelings of inadequacy and weakness have slowly crept in through the weeks, and I’ve welcomed it; I’ve entertained self-condemning thoughts that have made themselves comfortable in my mind and in my heart. At the same time, I feel selfish for not trusting the Lord with my life, not allowing his plan to supersede my own. So when I read through 2 Corinthians today, I was in dire need of God’s comfort.
What caught my attention was 2 Cor. 1:5 where Paul writes, “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” My first thought: I’m absolutely pitiful. How lowly of a creature must I be to even try to compare uncertainty about my future to Christ’s sufferings! I’m sitting in a library, fully clothed with my laptop and noise-canceling headphones comparing myself to Jesus Christ who was naked, beaten and carried his own cross up a hill to the spot where he would be nailed to it. My suffering is nothing in comparison to Christ’s suffering! Can I even call it “suffering”?
(This was the part of my day where I was able to remind myself of the Gospel truth. That I can take comfort in Christ’s sufferings because his death and resurrection bore the burden of my sins, giving me hope for a right relationship with God. Beyond any other afflictions in life, I have this hope in Christ’s saving gift of grace that will one day come to full fruition. This is one thing that I, as a Christian, can always take comfort in.)
As I read Paul’s words over and over again, I felt weaker and weaker. Selfish. Prideful even. Yet God is gracious, he is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (1:3). God considers the struggles of his children, big or small. The bible is clear that God knows our thoughts and our ways, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139). Why wouldn’t an almighty Creator know us from the inside out? Why wouldn’t He know our innermost thoughts and feelings? He is wholly able to care for and comfort us.
So I know I’m weak and that God considers my weakness. Where do I go from there? Do I just wallow in my feelings of inadequacy knowing that at least God cares about me? Well, I found encouragement later in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul was a weak man, described as having a mysterious thorn in his flesh. He even asked the Lord to remove this affliction from him three times, and yet the Lord allowed it to remain. Why? In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I realized, as Paul surely did, that we should be glad in our weaknesses. In our weakness the Lord’s power is made perfect; this is that whole concept of “less of me and more of You, Lord.” Because I am weak, the Lord is able to perfectly display his glory and power in me; I am a blank canvas on which the glories of Christ’s sacrifice are masterfully displayed. In light of this, I should cringe at the thought of trying to get through the day relying wholly on my own strength.
It is a blessing to be inadequate, and I should boast in my weaknesses. By understanding my weaknesses, I am acknowledging Christ’s power in me. My uncertainty makes me recognize my utter reliance on God; it reminds me that I should seek His glory above my own and consider Him above myself. What a blessing it is to be weak!
(Thank you for bearing with my “stream-of-consciousness”-esque post.)