When I Am Weak

  {***Trigger Alert*** This post contains a brief journal entry written during a season of depression.    This week's series: #WhenIAmWeak}

{***Trigger Alert*** This post contains a brief journal entry written during a season of depression.

This week's series: #WhenIAmWeak}

January 10, 2018:

Blank. The last month of life is blank in {my journal}, and sometimes I think that is the perfect description of depression. Blank emotion, blank motivation. No major bad things happened, minus a lot of sickness in our family and pregnancy nausea. And plenty of good things happened over the past month too. But mostly what I felt is “blank.” I’m slowly coming out of it – the nausea and depression. But it feels like a slow progression.

Yesterday, Facebook reminded me that three years ago we publically announced I was pregnant with Aliza. And then, yesterday I heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I cried a lot yesterday – another sign I’m coming out of depression. I felt more than blank. I felt sad.

Thanks to my first trimester fruit-basket-upset of hormones, I rarely felt like myself for the first four months of this pregnancy.

I’ve had depression before, but never while pregnant. Chronic nausea and cold winter and bouts of the flu likely didn’t help. Though I have taken anti-depressants before, they're not considered safe during the first trimester of pregnancy. 

I was operating out of weakness: unable to muster energy to do the usual cooking and playing and tidying for my family. Unable to write or find the desire to socially share. Unable to leave our four walls and pretend I was fine. The culturally appropriate question to ask a pregnant woman is, “How have you been feeling?”

But I can’t say that the culturally appropriate answer is, “Depressed.”

God showed me undeserved mercy.

By the time I was 16 weeks pregnant, my depression subsided, and each day felt less like twenty-pound weights had been metaphorically tied to each of my limbs and more like it was slowly gathering around my hips like a normal pregnancy.

But in the midst of those four months, I wondered if my weakness would ever end. I remember asking God if I would ever be able to get off our couch, or at least if I would ever want to get off our couch again.

Blank. Slow progression.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote that a metaphorical thorn in his flesh was tormenting him {2 Corinthians 12:7}.

The specifics of that thorn are a mystery. It could have symbolized anything from chronic illness to spiritual harassment to the persecution he was often subjected to. Whatever it was, it left him feeling weak in his work as a messenger of the Gospel.

Even though he pleaded toward heaven three times, God left the metaphorical thorn in Paul’s flesh untouched so that his success wouldn’t go to his head {vs. 7}. In God’s eyes, it was better for Paul to humbly suffer than to suffer from pride.

When we are in the thick darkness of personal trial, it is hard to grasp that we worship an almighty God who allows thorns in our lives.

Thorns that we’ll cry out to have taken away, and that – like Paul – may remain piercing our sides.

That's one reason I appreciate the Lenten season. In a culture where we spend most of our time trying to run in front of our pain instead of embracing and lamenting it, we take time to specifically remember and respect what makes us weak. We acknowledge that we exist in a world crippled by sin and pain. And I find that very refreshing.

Because the power of worshipping the God of thorns is that He doesn’t allow in our lives what He hasn’t already suffered through Himself. The thorns that are piercing our sides and leaving us in pain are the same thorns that were shaped into the crown that pierced His brow 2000 years ago.

And it was in Christ’s total submission to weakness, with that crown shoved on His head and His hands nailed to the cross, where He performed the most powerful act of sacrificial love that will ever be witnessed on this earth. Which is why, when Paul’s appeals were denied three times, God was able to reassure him:

My power is made perfect in weakness {vs. 9b}.

We are not only given permission to be weak, but our weakness is welcomed. It’s transformed into power thanks to God’s mighty hand.

Maybe you’re in a place of noticeable weakness.

Maybe your thorn stems from depression or grief or a broken heart or an unexpected trial or an ongoing spiritual battle or a particularly draining season of life. As you cry out to God, daily lifting up your anxieties to Him in prayer and lamenting your thorns, hold onto the promise that the God of thorns sees your pain, understands your pain, and feels your pain.

The promise of that grace is not just a consolation prize. It’s assurance that though our personal thorns remain, sometimes tormenting us in our weakness, that God is able to accomplish His purposes.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. {vs. 9b-10}

We are allowed to stop relying on ourselves and instead humbly rely on His sufficient grace.

For when we are weak, then we are strong.

 

Grace and Peace,

Kendra