Spiritual Weakness

 

All of life, both physical and spiritual aspects, depends upon God’s provision. An emphasis held in the world, and in our own human nature, is the focus we have almost totally upon the physical aspects of life. God provides for us “wilderness experiences” to let us know that there are spiritual aspects of life that require nourishment and care, just as surely as the care of our physical bodies. We are given a witness for our instruction in the account of the children of Israel. Deut 8:2 says “And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” The Israelites endured many hardships during their forty years in the wilderness, and they sinned a great deal too. God, however, reminds them that He was with them during both good and bad times. He also makes it very known that He Himself allowed and inflicted a great deal of sorrow. The purpose for why He did this include three specific reasons: to humble them, to reveal their hearts and to teach them that man does not live by bread alone. We see that God humbles us to drive the pride of self-sufficiency far from us. When things go well, it is easy for us to disregard the purposes of God and ascribe success to natural abilities, learned skills, or even good luck.

In 1997, when I was first diagnosed with the terminal disease of A.L.S (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) I was in my mid 30’s and was told that I would be dead in 2-5 years. Unimaginable! I was in the prime of life and still very physically capable; apart from a loss of strength in my right hand. I believed I could beat this illness through my own determination and effort; with Gods help. Despite countless alternative and plausible treatments the following 8 years, I eventually acknowledged, that no one beats A.L.S and everyone dies. I conceded that I was totally at God’s mercy for deliverance. My body was His responsibility, my life is hid with Him, for His purpose, I would trust Him for my very breath (which becomes the demise of persons with this illness). I am continually brought back to this reference point; God desires to bring me through this wilderness experience where the only option I have is to completely trust Him. Human effort and resources will not rescue me; I relinquished my control to work it out. Only the very Life and Spirit of God Himself can deliver me from this body of sin and death. This was (and is) a difficult and exasperating realization to my understanding but Oh! What a joyful release in my spirit; to be totally dependant on the mercy of my Living Savior Jesus Christ. God wants me to be free from a spiritual A.L.S that is far more destructive to my eternal soul than physical A.L.S could ever be to this temporal body.

When malnourished, our bodies begin to weaken noticeably, muscles start to atrophy and we soon begin to experience fatigue and frailty. If not addressed through intervention, we would eventually die. Our human spirit, when malnourished weakens and seems to “die” so slowly that it is almost unperceivable. Unknowingly, as we spiritually deteriorate, we may even feel blessed and prospered by God! We think that we are okay and doing well because we are physically capable and find intellectual solutions of handling life’s trials. God, in loving chastisement, disciplines us with symptoms to warn us that we are not as spiritually healthy as we thought. In fact, our dependence to understand the ways and purposes of God are shaken, hopefully leading us to draw closer to Him for strength, comfort and wisdom.

God seeks to help us see our need and our reliance on Him. We absolutely must learn that life—both physical and spiritual—depends on the supply of God. Jesus says in John 15:5, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Somehow in our own vanity we think that when adversity comes our way with God’s “help” somehow we will get through the trial by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. Although, we give Him praise for every good gift and victory; many times we don’t recognize our utter dependence on His grace. The truth is that; if we can handle and fix our problems then we would have no need for God to deliver us. Many things are done in self effort, in the strength of the flesh; we can exhaust every option only to realize that when we finally give up and get out of the way, it is at that time God has the freedom and invitation to move in our situations. In Mark 8:32, Jesus rebuked Peter when he told Jesus that He should not go to the Cross to die, exposing that Peter minded the things of man and not the things of God, Jesus said in verse 8:34b  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”.

I find that our long standing responses to the trials we face reveal the stability in our heart. We have the potential to be purified and refined by adversity when we allow God to exchange His strength of character for our frailty. The security we place in Him is foundational to the freedom we can have to be content whatsoever state we are in. He becomes the stability of our times. Our abandon unto God, places us at the end of ourselves; we are dependent on His mercy and love.

God asks us in His Word to live by faith, confident in Him to supply our needs even when we have no indications or evidence to believe; this is the substance of faith. We trust in His love, believe Him at His Word; this being the work of God that pleases Him. We are found “In Him” having no righteousness of our own but having His righteousness, His integrity, as our breastplate protecting our heart and decisions.

God deliberately orchestrated difficulties for the Israelites to face but He did not ask them to go through these trials alone. He was with them in the cloud and in the fire; He dwelt among them in the Tabernacle. We don’t invite trouble and find no good time for it; in fact, our prayer would be “lead us not into temptation but deliver from us from evil”! God chastens us for our profit to 2005-02-21-scott-2004-heavy-head.JPGproduce the peaceable fruit of righteousness within us (Heb 12:11). We can lift up the hands that hang down (quite literal for A.L.S. condition) and strengthen the feeble knees. We place our human understanding on the altar and avail ourselves to the plan of God which can save and sanctify us.

One Response to “Spiritual Weakness”

  1. toni taylor Says:

    Pastor Scott…my heart jumped when I read what you wrote “Human effort and resources will not rescue me; I relinquished my control to work it out.” When you are healed, no man can take the credit!!! It’s all God!! Amen.

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