Ask yourself some questions she told us:
Are you surrendered?
Are you content?
What’s not sufficient to make you content?
Some people say God’s in the healing business; I say he’s in the hurting business!
Hurts so good though.
I received a pretty good kick in the pants at our annual ladies’ retreat with one Mrs. Penny Soboleski. She reminded us of last year’s theme and challenge: surrender. I didn’t really know last year what I needed to surrender, but I was willing to do whatever God asked.
Well he knew what I was ready for and when. He asked me this year, not to surrender but to be content. This year’s theme?
1 Timothy 6:6 – Contentment with godliness is much gain.
II Corinthians 12: 7-10 – 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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. 10 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.
So many terms here to understand and apply: surrender, contentment, sufficiency! Let’s look at a few:
Contentment: Miss Penny gave us a working definition for contentment as being: Believing God’s provision is sufficient
Discontentment: My expectations not being fulfilled
Then she asked some questions:
What have you surrendered or surrendered to? I have surrendered to staying home, having seven children, and home educating us all.
She told us: You can be surrendered and still be discontent. (This was such a helpful distinction!!)
What are you discontent with? I am not content staying home
What are you not satisfied with? What is not enough for you to be content? …
Me. I am not enough.
What is it I lust after? To be esteemed, recognized, successful. These things do not happen in my home. I am a terrible organizer, I am not patient and kind. I am not a fun or crafty mom. I am a horrible house keeper. I have nothing I am doing in my vocation that makes me feel good about myself.
I am insufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you.” “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
I’ve heard these phrases a hundred times at least, haven’t you? I have not had a clue how to apply them other than to just believe them.
But when I looked up the Greek words contained in these phrases some understanding and power were unlocked for me.
1) Content – there is “content”, autarkes- be self-content, self-sufficient. Not meaning “self-made man” but, there are things we can content ourselves with – sufficient for one’s self – as in Paul’s epiphany: I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil 4:11, also 1 Timothy 6:6 – contentment with godliness – self-satisfaction – is much gain.
2) Content – then there is “content” which is “sufficient” – arkeo – be possessed of unfailing strength – be enough – not connected with “auto” i.e., “self”. – My grace is “enough” for you. II Corinthians 12:9. The rest of the verse explains why we have to learn to settle for God’s grace – yes, settle: for my strength (dynomis – as in dyno-mite) “force” is made perfect (consummated!!) in weakness (lack of strength. feebleness). When God says, “enough”, we have to learn to be content with what he calls sufficient. Sometimes we are dis-content with the amount or the extent of his grace; but
it is perfect – complete for what he has purposed.
There is an amount, a length, a measure of contentedness and sufficiency God has equipped us with in our person we are allowed and even expected to utilize: autarkes.
But there is also a measure that is short and unable to measure up: weakness: astheneia – God has purposed as well.
And to the extent we don’t allow for that weakness, that feebleness, that failing to manifest, the more we cover it up, avoid it, and cope with it, the less we are operating in God’s strength. The less it is conceived in our bodies and minds and spirits.
Did you note “consummated”? You know – that mystery that happens on the wedding night – or used to only happen on the wedding night? it is the physical and spiritual union of the husband to the wife. His strength. Her weakness.
We don’t like to be weak, to be vulnerable. In essence we don’t like to receive because it means we need.
But if we act like a scared or scarred bride on her wedding night – not allowing or receiving her husband’s strength – then we will not be consummated in God’s strength.
I told you I am discontent with staying at home because I feel unable and ill-equipped to accomplish success in my home. I need someone else’s strengths to shore up all my weaknesses: non-administrative, non-organizing, impatient, unkind, unmotivated, etc… on and on and on.
And here is God offering me his “dynomis” – his force, his strength, his character.
But I don’t like these thorns that keep me from boasting. I also told you I desire, I lust after, esteem, success, acknowledgement. If I stay in my weaknesses then part of my problem will remain as well: I want to boast. I want someone to boast about me. In my autarkes – my own strengths, my gifts, my honed crafts – I have power, I have force.
And then, just how will God get any glory? How will his strength show through me? When a marriage is consummated there is evidence. God wants it to be evident He is in my life. But I want it to be evident I am in my life – apparently. Which just sounds silly now that I write it: I am in my life. Of course I’m in my life! Why do I need to prove it? Over and over and over? Why am I not concerned with evidencing God in my life, over and over and over?
How do I boast in my weakness?
I don’t know. But God says it’s ok if I boast in that. That’s what I ought to be identifying with: I don’t know. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, and save me.
Look at the end of verse 9 in II Corinthians 12: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Do you ever feel like God is temporary or inconsistent?
Sometimes he’s so close, and sometimes it seems like he’s changed phone numbers! That word “rest” there means “to fix a tent or habitation on”. The children of Israel were wandering forty years in the desert. While they were being testing and tried God had them erect a temporary tabernacle they could take down and set up as they went.
I know I’m not home yet. I’ve not arrived, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I do feel like I’m wandering as I wonder. But God is here. And he’ll rest upon me – he’ll set up a habitation if I’ll but glory in my weakness and allow him to consummate his strength in me – HIS power – not my own.
God wants to habituate not visit. In my weakness God finds rest! And in God’s power, I find rest.
So, here I am, boasting in my “insufficient funds”! It may be bad news at a banking institution, but in the store rooms of heaven, my weakness makes room for the treasure of God’s grace, and strength, and provision.
How can you let God’s sufficiency empower your weaknesses?