2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

How powerful are those words? This is why I love me some Paul. It’s so funny because I’ve always heard that God will never give you anything more than you can handle. Well, I’m sorry but I really don’t think that statement is true. When God is trying to get you to wake-up, when he’s trying to get you to solely depend on him, he will give you more than you can handle. He will throw both the washer & dryer at you and you will keep shouting, “But Lord, it hurts, it hurts!” And he will keep sanding you down, refining you, redeeming you. And when he’s doing this, it will hurt more than anything you’ve experienced, it will bring you to your knees and you will finally realize at this moment that you are not in control. You will realize that God is in control and that you’ve got to let go of that dream of doing in on your own. It’s at this moment that you will finally break down and scream those words, “YOUR Grace is sufficient for me, for YOUR power is made perfect in MY weakness.”

Last night I definitely hit an all time low. I mean it’s 5am and I’m sitting in an abandoned parking lot, after screaming at God for the past 7 hours. For the first time in my life I’ve admitted to him how angry I am. Not only at God, but also I’m angry at all the people who have hurt me. I’m freaking angry, I’m freaking hurt, and YES, I have every freaking right to feel this way. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the one holding everything together for everyone. I’m hurt that my childhood was ripped from me, by my father. I’m angry that my innocence was snatched in the 6th grade after being molested. I’m pissed off that I became the mother to my mother after my father left. Watching her lay in bed just crying for days and I stepped up. I didn’t go away to college in fear that she would not be okay. I’m mad that I stayed in an abusive relationship for a year and a half. And it flipping devastated me getting raped after I finally got the courage to leave that jerk. It hurts that I’m the one who walks around with a smile, that I am the only one concerned about restoring my broken family- that I have to sleep in my car some nights because it’s so bad at my house. And yet, finally after admitting for the first time that I am hurt by all those things, what hurts me the most is that I know that through Christ I am new, I am redeemed, I am deeply loved, yet I cannot accept this gift. I have the knowledge, I have the option and so many other hurting people do not know. I feel so selfish for being mad over these things.

Then, I think about that scripture & everything that Paul went through. God could have taken away that thorn- but he didn’t. Paul prayed for healing 3 times, but did not receive relief. What he did receive was so much greater; strong character and the ability to show compassion & empathy towards others. Gosh, I really don’t know why God spares some people of certain things. I know we all have our crud that we work through and I will be the first to say I just don’t stinkin’ understand his plan. But for some reason I just have this overwhelming trust, that every single one of those things I’m hurt about will be made useful for his plan.

When I first became a Christian I thought that loving Jesus and others meant covering up these things, putting on a smile and pretending that Jesus makes everything perfect, that you won’t hurt anymore. Accepting Jesus’ love is hard. Putting your entire trust in something other than yourself when everyone else has let you down, is hard. Sometimes life will feel like it’s more than you can handle- because it is more than you can handle. I’ve finally realized that it’s okay to hurt. Gods power is displayed in my weakness. It shows that we can recognize our own limitations, we recognize that it’s not by our own might, or our own energy that we live. It’s because of God and if anyone does such a great job at exemplifying this trust, it’s Paul.

God is refining us daily, so it’s natural that it hurts. When I said coming back to Maine was going to be hard, that was an understatement. It was so easy and comfortable for me to stay in South Carolina with my new identity, not having to face my past. And when I felt God calling my back to Maine I honestly thought it was just because of my heart for the lost. I saw so many people who loved the Lord in the South, but so few in Maine. I honestly had no idea he was calling me back to break me down even more. One thing I’ve learned is that God does not necessarily call us to live in comfort. He calls us to live exactly the way his disciples did- and often times that means giving up your comfort zone. Being a follower of Jesus does not mean a life of ease and that is such a hard thought for me to shake. Life is consistently hard & people will consistently disappoint you. For so long I’ve had this wall up, wanting to come off as this self-sufficient girl. I don’t need a man, at one point I even thought I was called to be single. I don’t need a strong community, they will only hurt me. I don’t need my family, they certainly have hurt me. But Jesus is consistent. He is not human and I’m finally learning to trust that he will not hurt me. I’m learning to let him carry these burdens, to open up to the people who extend love to me. HIS plan is sovereign. He will not let me down, He will not let YOU down. HE is the truth, HE is the light, HE is the way. Thank you Jesus, you are my redeemer…

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This song started playing last night and just broke me down…