I first heard this poem a few weeks ago, and it knocked the air out of me. Can you relate? Have you ever heard a song, read a story, or looked at a picture that came at just the right moment to minister to the deepest heart of your soul?
Each word spoke to the journey I have been on over this last year – - – and it reminded me again of how God does work in mysterious ways to bring beauty from ashes in our lives. (Isaiah 61:3 and Romans 11:33) May it be a blessing to you as you read it too.
By An Unknown Confederate Soldier
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might humbly obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.
I wish I knew the name of this man, his story, his unique role in the history of our country. Since his name isn’t connected to his poetic prayer, there is little that we can gather about this man except to learn of his character from the words he left us. And what he left us is amazing, shedding light on the truth that God’s ways are always for our good and no matter what we face we can be assured that God is using it for His glory and for our good. (Romans 8:28)
That’s easy to say, somewhat harder to believe, and almost impossible to live out in the first few moments when we come face to face with the news or a situation that devastates our lives and steals our plans and futures.
When I first learned that I had diagnoses of some physical challenges that I was going to be facing every single day for the rest of my life, I felt like I was knocked flat on my back. My world started spinning and all I could see was how this loss of health was now going to define my life and steal the future I had planned for myself and my family. It was a selfish reaction I admit, but very human. I actually fell into a time of quiet reflection, of seeking more answers, of looking to God to show me why He has allowed me to go through this.
It didn’t seem fair. I started to feel like a burden rather than a blessing to my family and friends. I almost started to believe that my calling had ended, that God couldn’t use me anymore.
How can God bring beauty from death, joy from sorrow, and use praise to bring healing and strength in to my life again? (Exodus 15:2) At the beginning of this year, I had stepped out in faith to serve the LORD full-time in ministry in my church and local community. After learning of my health challenges, I was left with the feeling that the enemy was stealing from me and that my ministry – a.k.a. my usefulness for God’s service and outreach – was over….
How can I be a worship leader with no voice?
How can I teach the Word of God in a public setting without the strength to stand and speak to a crowd?
How was I to continue writing when my own body was working against me in keeping up with day-to-day life and responsibilities?
Well, there were and still are no easy answers to those questions and the new questions that have come up since. BUT, I can speak with full assurance and commitment that each Word of the LORD has been true and I believe with all of my heart that this time of weakness, infirmity, challenges, and trials are all part of God’s loving and unique plan for my life. (2 Samuel 7:28)
Although some things have changed for me, many things are still the same.
I am still called.
I am still equipped.
I am still a person with the ability to serve my LORD and be a blessing to others.
I may have limitations in the earthly sense, but I know without a doubt that our God can still use my willing heart and hands outstretched as He fills in the gaps of my humanity for me. Each morning I awaken anew to seek to be a blessing and encouragement to others in His Name. My primary calling as a wife, mother, homeschooling teacher, and woman of God will never leave me and God will enable me to fulfill the tasks He has called me to do, even if the format and settings have changed.
I may lead a “quieter” life now, but it is just as blessed.
I am thankful and rejoice in my sufferings so that I can share with others that it is in HIM ALONE that I can find joy, purpose, and HOPE for all of my tomorrows.
I don’t know what 2013 will bring me, but I know I can rest in His promises.
What I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that God hasn’t changed. No matter what I will face, I know that He will be there for me each step of the way and, if necessary, He will carry me though it to the other side.
9 He answered me, “I am all you need. I give you My loving-favor. My power works best in weak people.” I am happy to be weak and have troubles so I can have Christ’s power in me. 10 I receive joy when I am weak. I receive joy when people talk against me and make it hard for me and try to hurt me and make trouble for me. I receive joy when all these things come to me because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 New Life Version (NLV)
Rest in His promises for you today and in the days ahead.