Some valleys have deceptive little crests, creating the illusion that you have at last come to the other side, only to reveal the valley stretching in front of you, with no end in sight. Life is full of these valleys, where weakness pours over you in waves, and you cannot rest for the pounding of your heart. Every time you enter the presence of God, your heart fills and your eyes overflow, recognizing your weakness, your desperate need for Him. You’re weary. Worn. Terrified. Depressed. Entering His presence hurts because recognizing your weakness and failure hurts. Enter His presence anyway.
This is easier said than done, of course, and we find ourselves with tear-soaked pillows, shaking and crying alone in a bathroom stall, screaming and spitting venom in a car. Life is too hard to do alone; everyone turns to and clings to something or someone, trading them out for a new thing as the previous one fails. These symptoms point to a system failure, one that can only be rectified by returning to the Father. We must release our attempts to justify ourselves in order to find rest. It takes effort to enter God’s rest because we are a prideful people, clinging to our idols of self-justification and people-centered approval. Our yoke is heavy. Carrying the weight of opinions, both real and imagined, and the burden of justification will break us.
I don’t know what you’re going through right now. Maybe it’s a scary diagnosis. Maybe it’s the lack of a diagnosis. Maybe it’s a rift in a friendship. Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe it’s struggling to find your worth outside of academic or artistic achievement. I don’t know how or when your situation is going to end. I can’t even promise that it will. Perhaps like Paul, you have been given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Perhaps like Paul (and me), you’ve begged and begged for release. The painful and unwanted answer, no, is coupled with the most comforting words:
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So, because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, I am strong.” // 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Rejoicing in the weakness may not come quickly or easily, and it comes at a cost. We must let go of everything in order to fall on the Savior’s arms. Remember His faithfulness. He has been faithful to me through abuse, addiction, moving 3,000 miles during middle school, loneliness, bullies, and every other situation I’ve faced in the past twenty years. I know He has been faithful to you, because I know His character. He is faithful in our faithlessness. We do not despair because we know firsthand the sufficiency of His grace. In the midst of the storms and valleys and thorns, we can be overwhelmed by our circumstances, or we can be overwhelmed by His faithfulness. And His faithfulness is overwhelming.
Julie Newton // @july_centerstage
Junior // BFA Theatre, BA English