Monday, September 19, 2011

St. Paul, on Human Weakness; and Other Promises of God

II Corinthian 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure 
by the abundance of the revelations, 
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, 
a messenger of Satan to buffet me, 
lest I be exalted above measure. 
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times 
that it might depart from me. 
And He said to me, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, 
that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, 
in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sometimes life in this world is hard.  Sometimes we are thrown the proverbial lemon. Sometimes we are thrown blessings that are certainly not lemons, but that still just plain involve much work and heartache.

In my life, this is exhibited most specifically in having been asked by God to raise a large family.  I am honored by His call to me to participate in this great act.  I am humbled by the responsibility.  And I am in constant awe that God chose such feeble participants as Joe and I, to train up this number of servants to His glory.

Ps. 46: 1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. 

Frankly, there are many times I feel overwhelmed.  There have been times I have not felt up to the task.

Lest I leave any confusion, I in no way consider any of my kids to be what St. Paul referred to as a thorn in the flesh.  But I do often feel as though my particular personality is not conducive to the raising of a large family.  Several aspects of my personality constitute major thorns in my flesh.
  • I am distractible.  I can't keep track of who I've asked to do what job, and whether or not it's gotten done.  I often don't remember to start supper until it's too late to get it done well.  I forget clothes in the washer until they stink and have to be rewashed.  I consistently lose track of time.  Are these skills I could learn?  Could I do it better?  Probably.  How can someone forget that food needs time to cook, after all?  It seems like a no brainer.  And sometimes I do such things well for little spurts of time.  But I find it takes me too much energy to focus on such things. It's mentally exhausting for me and after such a organizational spurt, I tend to crash.  When I am on a roll with this sort of mental organization, I find that I neglect the kids.  The organization easily becomes the goal, and such a focus takes it's toll on the kids.  They tend to get into more and bigger mischief.  They engage in more whininess, clinginess, bullying, etc.
Romans 8:38
And we know that all things work together for good 
to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.
  • (this note, in the bold, was added 3/5/13.  I must have had something here in the past, but it's apparently gone.  I'll at least include the correct Scripture reference so that it does not appear that this is still part of Romans.  You'll have to add your own commentary based upon your particular worries at the moment.) 
 Matthew 5:25-31“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or what you will drink; 
nor about your body, what you will put on. 
Is not life more than food 
and the body more than clothing?  
Look at the birds of the air, 
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; 
yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not of more value than they?  
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? 
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: 
they neither toil nor spin; 
and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory 
was not arrayed like one of these. 
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, 
which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, 
will He not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith? 
“Therefore do not worry, saying, 
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. 
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
and all these things shall be added to you. 
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about its own things. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
  • I am lazy.  Or perhaps I ought to say low energy.  I had a friend once reprimand me for calling myself lazy compared to other moms.  I was exhorted to think of myself as low energy.  She spoke of an individual's energy level as being a genetic character trait.  I don't know which is closer to the truth, lazy or low energy, but either way, it is certainly a reality that must be addressed.   If not the sin of sloth, low energy is still a result of sin in the world, and its results effect our life.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
  • I tend to sway between perfectionism and a lackadaisical attitude.  The old, "If I can't do it perfectly, why bother," thing is a constant challenge to the management of my household.  As one might imagine, with ten children, it's been quite a few years since I've been able to keep everything up perfectly.  So we've been in the, "Why bother," stage around here for longer than I care to admit.
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? 
Be strong and of good courage; 
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, 
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Even so, even with the seemingly glaring hurdles to the proper management of a household, God chose me to mother ten children.  How can this be?

My human wisdom says that this ought not to work.  And yet somehow, it always does.  I live in the peace of God's promises.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.


Sara said...

Are you my twin??? LOL I am just like you, honestly. Hubby and I often butt heads about why things aren't getting done, or rather, perhaps the wrong things are getting done? We have different goals and different definitions of "kept up with" and "perfection" vs. "why bother." Tough to get through, to say the least!

But you're right. God uses our weaknesses to make everything turn out for good, even when we can't see it right now. But it's His promise, and we can trust that. For now, I just do the best I can. I heard something several months ago that has really helped me - God has given me enough energy to do exactly what He needs me to do today. Even if that means all I can do is keep the kids out of trouble, or on the opposite end, re-arrange the entire basement in 2 days..... :P

Now about the internet......

theMom said...

Yes I hear you, Sara. My husband and I have mostly gotten beyond the butting heads stage, we've been married 21 years. And I"m sure I still drive him nuts, and certainly he drives me nuts, but we've come to a place of stillness, because we both realize how blessed we are to have someone who can put up with us and our individual idiosyncrasies and annoying habits.

And yes, you are so right about God using our weaknesses. I started out focusing on that aspect, but the quotes that come to mind mind were all otherwise aimed, except the first. So I just went with that second aspect, of trusting God's promises.

But the initial promise we have is that because of Jesus' birth, perfect life, and innocent suffering and death, we are counted as righteous in spite of our failings. We can say with St. Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

The Pharisee's did not see their need for a Savior, but those of us who most obviously need Him, can truly show God's infinite grace and goodness.