She had been fighting brain cancer for months.
She told us what God had been teaching her. How He had told her to serve from weakness. I want to use my cancer to glorify God. Oh, what beautiful words. Not defeat. Not hopelessness.
Instead, depth and love and life. Not that there weren’t moments (days, weeks) when the grieving circled, but that in the middle of all of it– this was what she was choosing to say.
There is something about the voice of those who are suffering. It carries further and deeper than anyone else’s. No matter how softly they speak, the words stretch and strengthen and fill.
So when she said the words we all listened, attention grabbed and held.
All week the words mulled through my mind. Serving from weakness.
Like David, who carried stones to face a giant. Like Gideon, who used 300 men with lanterns and clay pots and trumpets against an army of 135,000. Like Esther, who had just her own self and her cousin’s words to spur her into action against the second most powerful man in the empire. Like Corrie Ten Boom, a watchmaker’s daughter who fell into the clutches of the Nazi army and yet spread the saving gospel of Christ to thousands and thousands.
Like my friend Lisa, who carried this diagnoses of lymphoma into cancer wards while clinging tight to the love and grace of God.
There, with those who were walking hopeless, Lisa shared the news of hope. There, where so many faced depression as chemo treatments went on and on, Lisa was able to serve from her own broken weakness. From the position of a patient with terminal brain cancer.
I couldn’t get the words out of my head. Serve from your weakness.
I’ve been in a weak place lately. I won’t share all the story, but anyone who understands attachment disorders will understand when I say that raising my older adopted children is a hard road.
I love them. I’m thankful every day for them. There is so much beauty and so much grace and so much hope—even here.
But I’m not strong enough in myself to do this well.
And that night, as I sat in a friend’s living room, listening to Lisa share about God’s rhema to her, something bitter and broken began releasing from my heart.
I was believing lies. Lies about my abilities and what was expected of me and how I was absolutely going to fail so miserably at being a mom.
God’s words settled around me, filling the places where bitterness toward myself and my children was trying hard to set up residence.
I realized it’s okay when I’m in a weak spot.
God can be glorified in my weakness. Especially in my weakness. I knew this truth, but I forget it when I’m feeling my worst.
I don’t know if there are words to explain how wonderful-beautiful this truth has been for my heart. The settling. The refining. The grace that is so abundant.
I can do God’s work, even when I am empty of any of my own strength. I can serve, even when I feel exhausted and worn out. I can bring glory to God, even when my house, my heart, my life seem to be in tattered pieces.
Because my ability to be a child of God has nothing to do with my own strength.
The week after Lisa shared, the week after God began writing this reminder into my being, we were all left in awe.
We got the message and sat at our kitchen table looking at the text in surprise. Lisa’s terminal cancer was gone. They did more tests, the doctors were confused and astounded.
Somehow, someway, the cancer that had given her maybe two years with aggressive treatment was gone completely.
A pure, complete miracle.
We rejoice in Lisa’s life. In her testimony. In the testimonies of her children. In God’s miraculous touch on her life.
And I am quieted and wrapped in this unbelievable comfort.
God still does miracles.
He still heals up broken things. He takes my weakness and has all the power, all the right, all the ability–to reach down and touch my home, my heart, my children.
Maybe it will be a sudden miracle. Maybe it will be a slow refining, over years and with many tears.
But regardless, when I am at my weakest point, I’m really the very strongest. Because when I am empty of my own strength, the power and glory of God is free to work in me, over me, and through me.
The same is true for you.
If you feel overcome and weak, dear ones, take heart! The Creator and Redeemer-of-All has overcome this world. His power is endless. His love all encompassing. His grace deep enough to fill in all of your emptiness.
You are the strongest when you are at your weakest– when you are face to face with your desperate need for God and His grace. Because it is in your weakness that you’ll find He’s still Emmanuel. The God-right-here-with-Us.