Serving in Weakness

I currently serve as a Regional Advisor to Women’s Ministries on our denomination’s National Women’s Ministry Team.

I was approved by my local session and our denomination’s National Discipleship Committee in the Fall of 2018 to serve in this volunteer way.

In my eighteen months of serving in this increased capacity, I have faced two of my most difficult seasons.

First, I received a medical recommendation to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy one week after my local session approved me for to serve in this denominational way. This season of physical suffering challenged me: it pulled on the threads of my story, drove me to a place of weakness, taught me to rely on others, and caused me to rest in a strength that was not my own.

Now, my clinically diagnosed anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder is being triggered by the current pandemic.

I am pretty high functioning when it comes to my mental illness—but the Lord has grown me into this because I have been intentional to seek His ways and not my own. Left up to my own self, I would close all the curtains and pull the covers over my head.

Facing both a preventative double mastectomy (physical health) and coping with my depression and anxiety (mental health) have both been equally paralyzing.

I keep coming back to one simple question: Why has God called me to lead others through two of the most difficult seasons I have recently experienced? 

I don’t feel like {I personally} have anything to give. I don’t have the right words. I am mentally crippled, broken, and limited by human condition.

In times of struggle and uncertainty my heart is prone to wander back to what I have to give, instead of remembering all He has given to me.

I am serving from a place of weakness, I have been serving from a place of weakness, and I predict I will continue to serve others from a place of weakness.

It is good news that Christians can serve others from places of weakness. Christians don’t rely on themselves but on the power of God—the power that lives in the hearts of all who believe.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 1, 7-18)

Weary hearts in ministry are not unique or new. I fail to remember that I am not alone when I struggle and battle against the challenges of living in the now and the not yet. Weary hearts in ministry have existed long before Covid-19 and long before my short thirty-six year existence on earth.

In my life, I get so myopically focused and fail to see the story is BIGGER than my right here and right now. I fail to look up and remember that God’s redemptive story is much more grand than my tiny corner of the world.

Christians are not to lose heart because they don’t rely on human condition! Christians rely on the power of the Spirit, the power of Christ in them, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). This empowers believers to not lose heart in times of affliction or suffering. Christians have the privilege to keep leaning into the power of Christ.

Paul wrote that we have this treasure in jars of clay. The jars Paul wrote about were nothing more than Gladware containers—these containers were not valuable and easily replaced.

What is remarkable about Christians is not the the container but instead, what the container holds— the POWER of God—His power shines through flimsy,  frail, and replaceable containers.

Paul wrote these things to bring the hope of resurrecting life to the Corinthians because the Corinthians needed to trust God amidst trying times. The same is true for us in this present time. We are not unique or alone when we serve from a place of weakness or in a moment of affliction.

Paul’s ultimate hope was future transformation in the new heavens and the new earth. This future hope determined the way he lived his every day life.

Our present reality is that our current sufferings and afflictions help us grow out of our old-selves and grow up into our heavenly-selves. Our outer self is wasting away, but our inner self is being renewed, day by day as we learn how to rest in His power. Our actions in our present reality should reflect an ultimate hope in a future reality. God is making all things new and one day believers will dwell with Him in the heavenly places.

In this season, it is freeing to remember, there is rest for the weary who are serving from a place of weakness.

It is not us, our strengths, our gifts, or our capacities.

It is Him, His power, His strengths, His gifts, and His capacity.

He is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think according to His power that is at work with in us (Ephesians 3:20).

It’s not us, but Him.

Currently my old self feels like {I personally} don’t have anything to give, but as I am learning to come out from under the covers, open up the curtains, and be intentional to grow up into my heavenly-self.

God is teaching me and stretching me as I learn to rest in the power inside this jar of clay. May it never be me, but always Him.

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