He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
My students and I just started a new chapter in 3rd grade math this week about subtraction, and we introduced it by reviewing some mental subtraction strategies and then looking at the story of Gideon in Judges 7, where God subtracted from Gideon’s already outnumbered army until they were just a handful of men, to ensure that they would depend totally upon Him and that He alone would get the glory for their victory against Midian. We talked about the fact that God often subtracts things from us, too, so that we must depend on Him, and in so doing He gets the glory for anything that is accomplished! Little did I know that God would give me an example of that in my own life the very same day!
That afternoon, I began to develop a headache, but I had already told my conversational English partner from Korea that I could meet with her that evening. I left school early enough to go work out before meeting with her, hoping that a good intense work-out would help relieve the headache, as it often does. Instead, however, it just continued to get worse, and as I drove to pick her up and bring her to my apartment for our Bible study, I was praying that God would give me the strength to get through the evening. I told Him, “God, I need You, because I really don’t feel up to this right now! Please enable me to still be a blessing to her tonight in spite of my weakness!”
As it turned out, I had a wonderful time with her, during which she really opened up and shared how much she has been struggling with feeling like God is not as close to her as He felt before she came to America. She asked me to pray for her, and right then and there I got to do just that. God brought James 4:8 to mind – “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to You” – and I was able to share this verse with her and encourage her to really seek God intentionally every day in His Word and prayer, because when God feels distant it is never He who has moved away from us! She confessed that it has been hard for her to make time to read the Bible regularly, and I was able to challenge her to start making that a priority daily, even if just a few verses, and I assured her I would be praying for her! I just felt the Holy Spirit really directing my conversation with her and giving me the words and the energy that I needed that evening. Meanwhile my headache had not improved, but God was giving me the grace to endure it and providing me with one of the best opportunities to encourage a struggling sister in Christ that I have had in a while! He truly reminded me that day of the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9, that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. This is precisely why He allows us to feel so weak at times, for it is then that we depend most fully on Him and that He can be most glorified as He works through us in our weakness to minister to others! This is His subtraction strategy to keep us humble and desperately dependent on Him and to ensure that He alone gets all the glory!