Wisdom Finds the End of Me
The Christmas festivities were over. The tree lights were turned off, and a blissful, satisfying feeling of exhaustion set in as my head hit the pillow. The bliss and satisfaction were soon awakened and diverted by approximately five hundred sneezes and a feeling of cement in my head. As I got up to get tissues I quickly realized that my knee felt injured, shooting excruciating pain at every turn and with every step. Over the week, the illness subsided but the knee pain has not. (MRI coming soon.) At first, it was annoying, but as it now affects my ability to help Wyndham without facing debilitating pain, it has at times felt unbearable. Several nights ago, the pain wouldn’t stop. While I wish I could share that I felt complete trust and assurance that God was faithfully listening and working on our behalf, to be honest, my thoughts went more like this:
God, aren’t we dealing with hard enough stuff already? Now, this. Really? Are you trying to crush us? I’ve got nothing, God. Really, nothing. I feel utterly and completely helpless. That sad mess was my “prayer.”
I wasn’t sure if my pillow was wet from the tears, or from the newly acquired conjunctivitis. (I don’t share this stuff to garner sympathy [prayers are always appreciated, though], but to share raw and real thoughts…and how God entered the picture.)
Normally, I like and strive to live life with a “glass-half-full” perspective instead of a “glass half empty” point of view. Most often, I rely on God’s love, count on hope, and feel deeply thankful. However, during this time my glass was not half full. It was not even half empty. It was dry as a bone—completely empty. It wasn’t pretty, but, that’s when God showed up in full force. Oh, he had been there, it’s just that I couldn’t fully feel his presence until I was utterly depleted…I’ve got nothing. I’m completely helpless. Yet, as I leaned into the suffering and cried out to God, I found I was soon leaning on Jesus. He had appeared in the suffering—as in an epiphany. Seldom, if ever, had I experienced at this depth the ways God uses suffering to bring us into his presence. A deep presence. Presence that fills our soul–one that, if you will, “sees God.” One that convinces us what is truly important—the only thing that matters. One that tells us eternity has started. One that inspires. One that convicts. One that takes us to our knees before him. His presence became deeper, and I’m grateful. As C.S. Lewis writes, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains;”
Suffering empties us, carrying us to the broken place where God can fill us. While I hate the pain of watching Wyndham’s body deteriorate with his disease, I marvel at ways God is working (often unbeknownst to us) through this suffering. I don’t know the answers to all this, but observe that God is emptying us so that we can be more fully filled; so that we can truly see him, in his magnificent glory. There is nothing more filling, or fulfilling than this.
Paul, in Galatians 4, refers to his bodily ailment. His suffering, which he begged God to take from him in 2 Corinthians 12, caused him to see with clarity the only things that matter…as he confides in the Galatians in 4:19 (RSV) that he is in travail for them until Christ is formed in them. Christ formed in us. This is the goal.
There are so many ways I can think of that we could be more useful to God without the suffering—as they keep us from many possibilities. Wyndham exhibits wisdom as he trusts that God completes the end of him. God is enough. I long to carry this wisdom with me, so that Christ may shine more brightly through me.
As I lay on my bed and wept, feeling depleted and useless, I was reminded by Paul that wisdom finds the end of ourselves…so that God can take it from there, where we can see and feel him.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21)
May we all see him clearer, as we find the end of ourselves and watch God take over, through our weakness—to somehow make us strong.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
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. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)