Bible Verses for When You Need Strength

  • Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
  • Psalm 22:19 NIV
    But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
        You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
  • Psalm 27:1 NKJV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    Whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the strength of my life;
    Of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7-8 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
        my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
    My heart leaps for joy,
        and with my song I praise him.
    The Lord is the strength of his people,
        a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
  • Psalm 29:11 CSB
    The Lord gives his people strength;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.
  • Psalm 37:39 NKJV
    But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    He is their strength in the time of trouble.
  • Psalm 46:1 NIV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        an ever-present help in trouble.
  • Psalm 118:14 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:28 NIV
    My soul is weary with sorrow;
        strengthen me according to your word.
  • Psalm 138:3 NKJV
    In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
    And made me bold with strength in my soul.
  • Proverbs 18:10 NASB
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    The righteous runs into it and is safe.
  • Isaiah 12:2 NIV
    Surely God is my salvation;
        I will trust and not be afraid.
    The Lordthe Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.”
  • Isaiah 33:2 NIV
    Lord, be gracious to us;
    we long for you
    .
    Be our strength every morning,
    our salvation in time of distress.
  • Isaiah 40:29 NIV
    He gives strength to the weary
        and increases the power of the weak.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NIV
    but those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.
  • Isaiah 41:10 NASB
    ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
    Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
    Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
  • Habakkuk 3:19 NIV
    The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
        he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
        he enables me to tread on the heights.
  • Mark 12:30 NIV
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
    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. 10 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.
  • Ephesians 3:16 NIV
     I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
  • Ephesians 6:10 NIV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
  • Philippians 4:13 NIV
    I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

What matters more than age

My son says he is “five-ish.”

He’s actually four and his birthday  is in October, so it’s not that his birthday is coming soon.

He’s simply feeling five, so  this is his new token answer.

“How old are you?”

“I’m five-ish.  I actually look five.  Actually.”

It’s because of a little playground encounter a few weeks ago  with two little boys who became his insta-best-playground  buddies.  They climbed all over the pirate ship together, took turns on the zip line, and then spun in the tire.

Finally, they exchanged names and ages.

That’s when my son realized these other guys were five and they were shorter than he was.  So, therefore, he must look five, or at least “five-ish.”

Maybe it’s the  fact that my baby is trying to age himself or the fact that my girls all finished off another  school year and are off to bigger, higher grade levels, like finishing up middle school of all things–maybe it’s me nearing 40 and feeling all the weight of what that means and how that  looks on me….

Whatever the reason, age is on my mind.

I’ve been thinking how age is inevitable.   Growing older just happens, even if we’d rather it didn’t.

Maturity, on the other hand, is not guaranteed.

In her book Unseen, Sara Hagerty says it this way

We’ll mature without effort into  wrinkles  and gray hair, but our hearts won’t mature deep  into God by default.

But what is this maturing, this  growing up  in Jesus?

It doesn’t come by default, so then it must take discipline.  Yes.  Spiritual disciplines.  Digging into  prayer and digging into His Word and serving and listening to the Lord and worshiping.   Yes and yes and yes and again.

It’s not all so  concrete and straightforward, though.  It  isn’t just about studying and reading and knowing what God’s  Word says.

There’s the discipline of repentance and humility.  It’s stumbling our way through living out faith.  It’s getting it  wrong, humbly confessing that and asking Jesus to  renew, revive, refresh and redeem.

There’s the discipline of weakness, maybe that’s the hardest for me.  When I  am feeling most  dependent on Jesus because I’m not strong enough or capable enough on my own,  I  have to lean.  Leaning can feel like so much brokenness and that’s hard, but it’s also sweet because that is exactly when I know Jesus more.

Failing, messing up, making mistakes, feeling frazzled and overwhelmed:  It’s all my weakness on display, but  I cannot pull away from the hard season, from the difficult or the wearying or the unknown or even what I just haven’t mastered yet.

Christianity isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being transformed.

Then there are the quiet seasons, when life seems to just roll  along day after day, seemingly stagnant, same-old, same-old.

Restless.  I can be so restless.

I want to see big results.  Big change.  Big impact.

Then I read the reminder in Isaiah of how to grow in the discipline of waiting:

but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 CSB).

I love  this verse in all of the nuances in each translation.

“Those who TRUST in the Lord”  (CSB).

The NIV says “Those who HOPE” and the ESV says “those who WAIT.”

We trust Him.  We hope.  We wait.

The discipline of waiting tucks itself into seasons of quiet and of hiddenness and of not knowing.  It’s about lingering for direction and looking forward to  seeing God at work, but not seeing that work just yet.

When we trust and we hope in Jesus even in the discipline of waiting, we can soar and we can run,  but oh friend,  we can also walk.

Somehow that walking seems  like the greatest feat to me.  Soaring can be exhilarating, running shows great power,  endurance and strength.

But walking takes unique courage.  Walking takes persevering hope.   We’re not seeing leaps of progress, but  we will  not give up.  We aren’t quitting and setting up camp in a land of complacency or dormancy.

We’re being steady,  daily, consistent, steadfast, and faithful.

When the soaring is done and the running is finished and we’re feeling  bone-tired, still  we walk with the Lord today.   Then the next day, we get up and we walk with Him again, and we will not faint nor fail.

I remember that it takes discipline to repent humbly, to fail graciously,  and to wait patiently.   That means I can buck less against what feels uncomfortable or hard and instead embrace what God is doing in me right here and now.   I’m not just arbitrarily aging; I’m maturing in Christ.  Lord, be at work in me.

His strength is enough for the grand and the ordinary, the big and the small

Earlier this week, I prepped my son for his four-year-old checkup.

“We’re going to show them how big you are,” I said. “We’ll see how much you’ve  grown since last year.”

“Yeah,” he chimed  in,  “’cause I was a baby and then you held me and I grew bigger.”

“Right,”  I nod.  Then I slipped off his pajama shirt and reached back for his clothes for the day.

That’s when he stretched out his bare arms over his head and squeezed them to show me his muscles.

“I’m strong now!  I’ve got big muscles ’cause I’m bigger.”  Then he poked out his chest and beat on it like  a gorilla.

I didn’t laugh (although it was totally cute and I wanted to chuckle).  I just slipped his clean shirt over his head and told him he was definitely strong.

When they called his name at the doctor’s office, the nurse asked him to  “step up on the scale here, baby.”

Well.

He informed her of the situation. “I’m not a baby.  I’m four.  I used to be a baby and then my mom held me and I got bigger.”

There you have it.

Of course, I try to spin this to my own mom-advantage.  “If you want to get even bigger and stronger,” I say, “you need to eat lots of healthy food.”

He tells me, “I’m already bigger.”

As in, been there,  done that,  Mom.

He is bigger, though.  He is stronger.  And while he makes muscle-man arms and tells me how strong he is, I’m thinking myself about strength and needing more of it and how hard it is to be weak.

Oh, we all need strength for the big things,  of course.  God calls us to take a huge faith-step and we need supernatural strength, for sure.  We need strength for  big risk and strength for big courage and strength for big life moments.

But we also need His strength for all our ordinary weakness.

This week I flew home  one day, beating my kids’ school bus by 10  minutes.  I greeted them, listened to  the recap of their day, then left for another quick errand.  I walked back in the door 40 minutes later and didn’t even put my keys down when my phone rang.  My youngest daughter was feeling sick and wondered if I could pick her up from school instead of risking her  riding the bus home.  Out the door I went again.

I need strength for in-and-out days.  I need strength for mundane and strength for ordinary because few things catapult me into weakness more than when I feel bogged down by the little.

The little things sure can pile right on up until you wonder how you could be so plain-out tired when you haven’t actually accomplished anything significant all day.  You have, however,  been doing a whole lot of little things without feeling like you’re making any grand impact.

So, in the a mornings, even when it’s a day when my to-do list is full of a long list of the tiniest of things, I cry out to God from my weakness.

Jesus, help me. 

Give me your strength today.  

Help me to  love others.  Help me not to get overwhelmed and anxious,  but to be at peace.  Help me to take things slowly and be comfortable with that.  Help me to value what  you value.  You set my agenda.  You plan my day.  You guide my feet.  You control my tongue (oh yes, Lord!).  

I remember my weakness when I forget.  I remember my weakness when I blow it and lose my temper or snap in anger with an out-of-control  tongue.

I remember my weakness when I let the littlest things catapult me into worry or make me feel harried and undone.

I  remember my weakness when I feel tired or I finish the day with items still left on that trusty to-do  list.

But those are the exact moments  to also remember God’s strength.   His muscle arms are big enough to take care of every load I carry;  I just need to keep on handing these burdens over  to Him instead of hefting them around myself.

In Psalm 84, it says:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you…
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion (Psalm 84:6-7).

It’s not “Blessed are those who are strong on their own.”

No.  So we can let that go.  We can stop trying to be strong enough.

We can stop  beating ourselves up over mistakes.  We can stop pushing ourselves to do more, be more, try harder, get farther.

Blessed are those whose strength is in HIM.  His strength is enough for the big and small, the grand and the ordinary.  His strength is enough for it all.

Weakness can be flour and oil or it can be cake

psalm-28-7

On New Year’s Eve, we used our fireplace for the very first time.

We’ve lived in our home 12-1/2 years.

We didn’t even use our fireplace on December 20th, 2004–the night of a huge winter storm when we lost power and running water.

I remember that night and that storm because I was in labor with my first baby and I huddled on the couch with blankets and a flashlight because the contractions kept me awake all night long.

It wasn’t until about 10 years later that I even realized my mistake. I had a fireplace available and didn’t use it.

What was I thinking?  Why did I choose cold and dark when warmth and light were so nearby?

How I have missed out.

How I still sometimes miss out because I have access to all that God gives and offers and simply IS, but still struggle along in my own strength.

I’ve read this verse so often these last two weeks:

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).

It’s a familiar promise, but one I return to now because I’ve been startlingly aware of my weaknesses.

It’s in the days when I want to give up or the moments when I mess up (again).

It’s in the way I try to avoid the difficult and the hard and hide my head in the sand instead of facing what might be.

I remember the widow of Zarephath who only had a little flour and oil to feed herself and her son. It was enough for one final, insufficient meal before resigning to starvation.

That’s the moment Elijah showed up asking for some bread.

Even after she told him how little she had, he boldly asked her to feed him first.  Then he promised this:

 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” (1 Kings 17:14 ESV).

I don’t know what struggle she might have experienced then.  I can’t imagine the choice–feed this stranger and hope God comes through–or feed my son at least one more guaranteed meal before we starve.

The Bible simply says, “She went and did as Elijah said” (verse 15).

And God came through.

If she kept the flour and oil for herself, she’d have had one small meal.

By giving it up,  though, she had miraculous abundance.

She gave God her weakness, her insufficiency, her smallest supply .  She gave out of her poverty, and He provided.  He refilled the flour and the oil.

God fills the empty when we’re poured out for Him.

Maybe I’ve been living on flour and oil when I could give it over to God and let Him make so much more.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote this about Elijah’s words:

’Make me a cake.’ In other words, Elijah said: There is one thing you can do. Even from your poverty, you can give me something.  It may not seem like much, but it is the very thing I need. If you will give it to me I can do something I could not do without it” (Loneliness).

We can fret over our insufficiency, we can hide away our weakness out of embarrassment and shame, we can run away from challenges, we can give up when it gets too hard.

Or maybe we can try to make do with the little we have.  “I have a little flour and a little oil. It’s not enough, but I’m on my own here.”

But weakness simply remains weakness when we avoid anything difficult and only live within our own abilities.  It’s just flour and oil.

So instead we can learn how to “make a cake” for Him with anything we have, no matter how small or how meager:

Here is everything, Lord.  It’s not enough.  Please be strong in my weakness.

We don’t need to be stronger ourselves; we need God’s strength.

We need more Jesus.

We need Holy Spirit fruit and comfort and anointing.

His strength is a promise.  It’s available!  It’s an unlit fireplace waiting to be filled with flame when we bring Him our needs  and ask Him to be powerfully sufficient in our insufficiency.

In every place we feel weak, we can make a cake, offer it up, and leave everything else to Him:  our future, our provision, our “success,” our salvation.  It is all in His hands.

Our strength begins when we rely on His strength alone.

Devotions from My Garden: Seed Identification

The Lord answered, “I will be with you”
Judges 6:16a

She stands under 3 feet tall, this baby girl of mine.  With one hand tossed up to her hip, she stomps her feet on the ground twice, three times perhaps for emphasis, and screams, “Never Again!!!” in a voice that commands attention, if not respect.  If she’s really upset, she might even engage in some finger wagging.

My husband and I stifle grins at the sight of her: two years old and she could command an army.

When she was born, my mother-in-law was away on a missions trip to an Indian reservation out in the Dakotas.  We made the call announcing our youngest daughter’s birth just in time to reach Grammy before she left for her missions work that day.

As any proud Grammy would, she shared the news with her roommate that baby Catherine had arrived.

Hearing the name we’d given our daughter, the woman declared, “Oh, a woman of authority.”

It’s something I’ve pondered as I watched my baby–so assured of her own mind—turn into a toddler—set on sharing her mind. I can see the hints of leadership, yes, even authority crammed into the body and soul of a toddler.  Tucking away memories, impressions, and glimpses at her developing character, I feel a little like Jesus’ momma, Mary, who treasured things up in her heart.

My Catherine reminds me so often of the seeds we planted in pots on our deck this year.  They appear so small and yet inside an explosive force lies dormant, ready to break out of its shell and grow and grow and grow . . . and hopefully produce much fruit.

Holding that ordinary seed in our hands, we can’t begin to imagine the potential for beauty and nourishment within once it receives proper care and tending.  The only hint we have of the future is the picture on the package and sometimes even then we’re surprised.

When we planted this year, we set aside one long planter for carrots and excitedly covered over about 20 seeds with 1/4 inch of dirt.  Within a few days, shoots of green appeared, but strangely enough, they didn’t look like carrots.  In fact, they looked identical to the radish sprouts now growing up in other pots.

I think perhaps my daughters got a little ambitious with the radish seeds and planted them in places I didn’t expect.

Sometimes we look at people or ourselves and see plain, brown, ordinary, small, and insignificant specks.  Mystery seeds.  If we’re particularly imaginative, we might even think we see the potential for carrots, only to learn later that God really designed us to be radishes.  Surprise!

Ultimately, God sees what we cannot.  He recognizes all our potential for growth.  He sees beyond our insufficiency and the trappings of our untrained immaturity and chooses circumstances, people, and training that will nurture, prune, and tend us into fruitful vines.

This is what God did for Gideon.  In a time when the nation of Israel was oppressed by the Midianites and foundering without a king or judge to lead them, God raised up a teenager to save his people.

Scripture tells us:

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”  (Judges 6:11-12).

Mighty Warrior?  Who could the Lord be talking about?  Surely not this youth doing chores for his dad!  We read later that Gideon destroyed his dad’s altars to the false gods, Baal and Asherah, so Gideon wasn’t even a child of a faithful and righteous man.

Even Gideon thought God meant someone else, answering, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family”  (Judges 6:15).

He said, “I’m a nobody from a nothing family.  I’m no Mighty Warrior.  You’ve got the wrong guy.”

We may think he was right as Gideon puts God to the test repeatedly, asking for signs and reassurances of God’s command (Judges 6).  Then on the eve of the battle, Gideon still feels afraid and God offers him further comfort and confirmation by allowing Gideon to overhear the enemy and how assured they were of defeat (Judges 7).

In fact, even when the battle is over, won with only 300 Israelite soldiers against an overwhelming Midianite army, it still seems odd that God could call Gideon “Mighty Warrior.”   After all, there’s no question at all who was the Mighty One.  The battle was the Lord’s; Gideon was just yielded and usable.

The truth for Gideon and the truth for us is that God looks at us and sees beyond all of our failings and fears.  Not only that, but He’s also not limited by our skills and talents.  He doesn’t see the potential of what we can do on our own; He sees the potential of who we are with Him.

With God, Gideon was indeed a mighty warrior.  That’s why when Gideon asked how any of this would be possible, “The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).

That is the promise He has for us–His presence, His help, His guidance, His reassurance when we are afraid.  All He requires from us is trusting obedience and the willingness to embrace His plans and His designs for our future.

More Devotions From My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

The Writing on the Wall

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her sixth chapter: “Johnny Come Lately”

***********************************************************

 “There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake”
(Ecclesiastes 7:20, Good News Translation).

My two-year-old created a masterpiece with a purple marker and a piece of paper.

Then she made a masterpiece on my kitchen wall.

I caught her standing back to admire her mural, giggling with pride.

Walking her back to the paper, I reminded her where art belongs without yelling or even raising the volume of my voice a decibel.  She took one look at my stern face, listened to my firm “no” and burst into truly remorseful tears.

I scooped her up to hold her, but she ran out of the room and I found her lying face down on a pillow, pouring out heavy sobs of brokenness.

All because she had made a mistake and done something wrong.  All because she wasn’t perfect and because I had to correct her.

Surely we all can shrug our shoulders and say, “We all make mistakes sometimes.”  Some of us can even get theological about it and quote “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But then there is that moment when you need grace because it’s not “all” who sinned or “all” who made a mistake.

It’s you.

It’s me.

Please don’t tell me you missed that part of the blog where you discover I’m not perfect.  The part where I sin.  The part where I have a bad attitude sometimes.  The part where I make silly mistakes and stupid decisions and act like I’m in an I Love Lucy episode.

And every time I’m the one in need of grace, I react like my two-year-old—-run away, bury my face and sob.

Grace sounds so wonderful when you’re explaining it to someone else or extending it to another. But when you are the one who needs grace, oh, how painful it is sometimes

Grace addresses sin.  Forgiveness always requires a wrong.  Erasing always requires a mistake.  Strength always highlights weakness just like perfection always reveals imperfection.

Admitting that we need a Savior requires personalizing the message of redemptive grace.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake” (Good News Translation).

So, that means we’re doomed to imperfection sometimes?  Guaranteed to need forgiveness?  Certain of mistakes and assured of being wrong occasionally (or often)?

Yup, that’s us.  That’s you.  That’s me.

So, when we mess up, we can engage in the horrors of self-condemnation.  We can become weighed down by shame and guilt—

that we are a mess
that we’re stupid
that we’re an idiot
that we never do anything right
that we deserve whatever punishment we get
that God can’t ever use someone so broken

Or we can accept the gift extended to us by a God who specializes in forgiveness. As Emerson Eggerichs wrote, “Mistakes can’t be undone, but they can be forgiven.”

But how do we move on after a mistake?  How do we walk humbly, yet not live paralyzed by shame?  How do we serve gratefully rather than withdraw altogether, unworthy as we are? How do we let the past shape us and not destroy us?

David experienced this same struggle.  He was a godly king turned adulterer and murderer.  Faced with the magnitude of his sin, still he continued serving on the throne of Israel, still he wrote Psalms of praise to God.

It wasn’t easy.  In Psalm 51:3, he says, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

But David acknowledged the need for grace, accepted forgiveness and moved forward in joy.

He brought to God the only acceptable sacrifice: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

God doesn’t desire our brokenness because He rejoices in our shame or needs our degradation.  He wants us to remember that He is God, not us.

We can begin to feel perfect, strong, capable, worthy in our own strength. But if we really are all those things, then who needs grace?  Who needs a savior?  Our worship and ministry can become tainted with self-exaltation. It becomes all about us and not at all about Him.

But when we accept grace, we acknowledge that we’re never worthy, not now, not ever.  Thomas Merton said,

“God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness.  And to laugh, after all, at the preposterous ideas of ‘worthiness.’ ~Thomas Merton~

Yes, we advance in His love.

We don’t need to be shamed by our sin, by our foolishness, by our scattered-brains and accident-prone clumsiness.  We should be humbled.  We are reminded that even though we are not perfect; He is.  Though we are not good enough; He is always sufficient.  Even though we are never worthy, He is worthy of all our praise.

And so we ask Him to forgive us.  We accept His grace.  And then we, like David, ask him to help us move on.

David prayed:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.   Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you”
(Psalm 51:10-13).

We pray as well, “Father, forgive us. Wash us clean.  We’re broken people, weak and mistake-prone.  Give us hearts that are confident not in our own strength, but in the power of your grace.  Restore our joy.  And allow us to minister to others even though we are unworthy.  We pray that others will want to know You because of the grace they see in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

His Sufficiency

“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.
2 Corinthians 2:9

I love sharing in this devotional ministry with you, hearing what God is teaching you and how it connects up with the verses and thoughts on my heart.  Journeying together with you these past few months has been a blessing to me.  But, To be honest, there are still some days I struggle with knowing what God has called me to do right here and now in my life.  Insecurities can do that to us, trap us in a pit of questions and uncertainty and prevent us from moving forward in obedience.

You see a great deal of the time I feel ill-equipped to sit across the computer from you and share from my quiet time moments.  I’m no bestselling author, conference speaker, or Greek scholar.  This is just simple me being real with you, a girl totally in love with God’s Word and how alive it is, how relevant for our lives, how powerful to change our hearts and minds.  These are the confessions of my heart, but maybe you’ve felt some of these insecurities in your life, too.

Have you ever felt a little insufficient?  A little overwhelmed by the task God’s given you and a little underwhelmed by your ability to perform it?  A little intimidated by the confident ministry of those around you?

Today, I’m thinking about insufficiency, mostly because that’s how I feel at this moment.  I’m sitting at my kitchen table after a hectic morning of running errands, forgetting something at the store, heading back to another store, returning all the library books and then finding one more book hidden in the car after I got home, and finally running late to pick up my daughter from school.

My youngest girl dug into the Easter candy that mysteriously moved from the inaccessible high counter where I had put it onto the very accessible  floor. (Do “Not Me” and “I Don’t Know” live at your house, too?)  There are candy wrappers dotted across the carpet.  Fortunately, she doesn’t actually like to eat the candy; she just enjoys unwrapping it, so next to the candy wrappers is the chocolate all lined up in a perfectly straight row.  (That chocolate is still good, right?  Because I totally just ate some.)

The laundry is spinning in the washer and dryer and the clean clothes are piling up on the sofa all fresh and warm and in desperate need of folding and putting away.

Meanwhile, I have not yet exercised this morning, but I am excusing myself because I’ve been coughing up my lungs themselves for the last few days.

So, sick, stressed, tired, forgetful, surrounded by mess, and feeling bad for not exercising, I have waved the white flag and retreated to the kitchen table for some time with God.  And I need it because I’m so insufficient for all this.

Fortunately for me, my favorite Gospel event is all about insufficiency!  Jesus had been teaching a crowd of people all day and healing the sick among them.  By the time evening came, the disciples were worried.  They told Jesus, “’This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’  Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”  Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV).  The disciples certainly didn’t have enough food for a crowd of over 5000 people, but Andrew did find one little boy with a small lunch: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6:9 (NIV).

“How far will they go” indeed?!  This boy’s lunch was utterly insufficient.  It probably embarrassed Andrew to even mention it.  Yet, this little boy with a lunchbox willingly and in great faith gave 100% of what he had to Jesus.  Even though it was insufficient, he trusted that Jesus could use his offering.

Certainly, this boy could have worked in his own strength to catch some more fish or bake some more bread.  He could have collected small change from everyone in the crowd and trekked into town to order take-out.  Still, despite his best efforts and hard work, he would never have provided enough in his own strength.  Likewise, I can’t be enough in my own strength either. If I’m relying on my talent, skills, hard work, and ingenuity, I’ll just fail.  I can only give my all to Jesus and trust that He will multiply my offering.

Besides, it was the insufficiency of the boy’s gift that allowed Jesus to be glorified.  If that boy had somehow gathered enough food for the crowd, the story would have been about his ingenuity and generosity instead of Jesus’ compassion and miraculous power.

Even if every attendee had packed a little snack and the disciples had pooled the resources to form a buffet line, Christ would then be a master organizer or administrator—not a God of compassion who sees our need and provides for us in abundance through His great power. 

Our insufficient offerings give Jesus the opportunity to be glorified.

God never expects us to be sufficient in our strength and abilities.  If we are strong enough, together enough, talented enough, smart enough, or equipped enough in our own strength, there’s no room for God to show off in our lives and receive the glory He deserves.   The gifts we bring just become less about Him and more about us.  

And let me assure you that God is powerful in our weakness.  Sure, my day has been crazy and I don’t feel up to the task of managing it all, but after some time with God’s Word and some moments spent sharing with you, I can look around with new eyes and see Him at work.  My beautiful girls have just bounced through the kitchen after playing outside on a bright and sunny day.  They were chased in by an “enormous, gigantic, ugly black spider” and now they are cuddling together all stretched out and relaxing, little blond curls and wisps of hair falling out of ponytail holders and hair clips.  My baby girl fell asleep peacefully for a nap, tired from all of her effort spent unwrapping chocolate and the house is quiet for these few moments.  A candle is burning.  The last load of laundry is spinning away.   One of the caterpillars we’ve been studying just emerged from her chrysalis and is waving her new wings back and forth, testing them out, feeling the weight of them. 

God is always sufficient in our insufficiency.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King