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Photo, with gold tint, of family with father in wheelchair. Bible verse from Joshua 1:9 is on the front.

Photo from Canva.
Graphics by Martha G. Brady.

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She sat in the hospital all alone. How had this happened? How had they gotten here? During the night he woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn’t tie his pjs closed. He called for help. When she got there, she realized his left hand wasn’t working. He was probably having a stroke! This wasn’t someone else’s life, it was hers.

She was able to get him to the hospital quicker than waiting for an ambulance AND he was alert and not choking, so she took him herself.

She checked to see if his tongue was deviating to one side. It was. His leg was weak as well. She got him back to bed and called her daughter. The best plan is normally to call 9-1-1, but in this case, she felt she could get him to the ER faster. There was no traffic. It was the middle of the night. Her daughter arrived quickly and by that time, she had the things needed to take him to the hospital. She was dressed. She had her husband’s insurance information as well as the list of all his medications. She drove one car and her daughter drove her own car. She talked to her husband during the quick drive to the hospital.

They arrived at the ER and he was quickly processed. Later, as she sat alone, waiting for him to return from the MRI, she processed all that had happened. During that first day, after he was admitted, as her pastor visited, elders came by to visit and pray with them, her small group came to pray for him, gathering around his bed in a circle, and doctors came to see him, she didn’t feel as alone as did during the weeks and months after the diagnosis and rehab. The reality of what had happened began to hit. The truth of his limitations began to sink in. He was no longer the same person. He could no longer do the same things he had done for the almost 50 years of their marriage…like keep the books.

Over the next weeks, she had plenty of time alone, often waiting…for doctors and therapists or thinking while her husband napped. What was going to happen to them?

Roles were going to change. It was not going to be easy. There were many days when she wondered if God had gone on hiatus, leaving her alone to deal with a vast group of emotions including grief, sadness, loss, feelings of being completely overwhelmed by all the new things she needed to learn. The most difficult was going to be managing their finances! Many days, she felt she was living in a fog.

Over the years that have followed, she has learned to discern which words in her head are the truth, and which are lies…even the ones that are Bible verses taken out of context!

The truth found in the middle of the fog is that God promised to be with us no matter where we are. Often, we focus on on the first part of this verse. But our strength and courage is more of a stoic version of strength and courage, not that of strength and courage that comes from God and truth that comes from Him!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 ESV

We need to pair it with this passage:

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.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

This is one of many that talk about boasting in our weakness so that Christ’s power can come through and God will be glorified instead of us. How often do you enjoy being the weak one in the room? Never, right? But it is a way to find God’s strength and power. Who knew? I never enjoy being the weak one in the room. But sometimes I am in that situation. And sometimes, God uses that very time to show HIs glory.

My preference would be to have a powerful persona. It feels so good to walk into a room with confidence, knowing people notice you as someone who is strong and in control. But that has rarely been God’s plan for me. In fact, I am epileptic. It is well controlled so I don’t often have seizures,  but I have them occasionally and can’t drive for 6 months or so. It’s not exactly the way to portray oneself as powerful and in control when you find yourself waking up on the floor surrounded by a group of people…or calling others for a ride.

None of us wants to have a testimony of our weakness. But that is what God wants of us. He wants us to depend on Him for our strength.

I would prefer having a testimony of strength and power, but just as Paul often stated, He had weaknesses and God used them to bring glory to Himself rather than using Paul’s strengths. He also used them to humble him and keep him dependent on God. That is also what may happen with you. I don’t know. My times of not driving have ended up creating new friendships with people I didn’t know well or even used me to minister to people I might not have even bumped into otherwise.

Are you learning to admit that you are weak, where you are, and where you need God’s strength to continue growing and drawing on His abundant grace? These are all areas where we need His grace.