God’s Strength When I Am Weak

December 20, 2013

My energy level is quite low on Day 4 to 5 of chemo Round 2. Have you ever felt tired of being tired? That’s where I am today, after a fitful night’s sleep. If there is any consolation, I detect a pattern emerging and there’s a good and logical explanation. The medicine is a poison slaying the Beast! All my healthy cells are working hard! Radiation is assaulting the intruder, causing some collateral damage in the fray! As one of my readers has commented previously, “I’m praying you just get through this, Mary . . .,” so this is one of those days to endure. And lest you worry, it is really only deep fatigue and a bit of an urpy feeling in the tummy. It could be a lot worse, but in reality it is nothing to worry about as things are going according to plan. It is the perfect day to turn back to a previous page of my story, and share a gift the Lord gave me just for this present moment.

It was the Saturday between my lung biopsy and notification by the surgeon that I had cancer. The surgical aftermath was uncomfortable. I was coughing a lot and the burden of the unknown was weighing upon me. I hadn’t realized at the time that this was really the issue, but the experience of the day made this clear eventually. This was the period when I was writing about waiting.

The day started with crisp autumn air that warmed into a lovely, sunny and still afternoon. Andy suggested shortly after lunch that it was the perfect time to go out into the garden and complete the fall’s vegetable patch maintenance and turn the compost heap. Ordinarily, the next sentence would have been an invitation, “Would you like to come out and help me?” Clearly, however, I was in no shape to wield a hoe, so instead, Andy said kindly, “Would you like me to set up the hammock so we can be together while I do that?”

We have a lightweight hammock that we carry backpacking sometimes; it’s easy to hook into place between two fruit trees and, as I demonstrated that day, easy to get into. But you know how it is: it takes a bit of jostling and balance to get one’s weight distributed just right and to feel safe within. And yet, as soon as I put my head back, I had this sensation of complete comfort and safety, no pressure points on my body, balance within a cozy cocoon. I looked up into the bright fall leaves of the apricot tree above me and I burst into tears at the beauty of it all. It was one of those moments when God spoke an enduring word to me: “Mary, feel this. Feel my presence wrapped around you. I have you in my arms just as surely as this hammock bears your full weight. I am going to carry you through the experience unfolding in your life. Trust me.”

This memory has stayed with me throughout the last six weeks. The same shepherd of my soul that made that promise is holding me still today, and I am grateful. Knowing what I know now, I will get through this day only because I will have been carried, not because I have walked in my own strength.

Jesus knew some days would be hard when he gave the invitation:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

He gives this rest in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, immortalized in Handel’s Messiah:

            He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
                        he will gather the lambs in his arms,
            and carry them in his bosom . . ..” (Isaiah 40:11)

So let us be carried today, by the One who is strong enough to bear our full weight. We shall get through this!

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3 Responses to “God’s Strength When I Am Weak”

  1. houstonhodges Says:

    To paraphrase some apostle or other: “What credit is it to you when you act good when you’re feeling good?”

  2. Bruce Pope Says:

    Perseverance To believe in the wide-awake real, through all the stupefying, enervating, distorting dream: to will to wake, when the very being seems athirst for Godless repose…these are the broken steps up to the high fields where repose is but a form of strength, strength but a form of joy, joy but a form of love. GM

  3. Steve Stager Says:

    Mary, you are the most introspective extrovert I know. And your thoughts are deep, faith-filled, and faithful. What a gift you are to those of us privileged to walk the journey of life with you!

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