The love for self is a terribly strong force, but Christ calls us to die daily. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, and that’s mind-blowing, or more like ‘flesh-destroying’.
There are seasons in which we experience weakness in the worst ways. In these seasons, it’s as if we have no strength. I think of Paul telling the story of a certain “thorn in his flesh” he prayed about three times and only got an answer from Jesus afterwards about. Christ responded to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) What does this mean? Would Christ carry the cross for Paul? It doesn’t seem so, at least not in the way we would expect.
The picture of God carrying us like babies is so attractive to me, but this is not the image we have when God says His grace is sufficient. He does not spare us from suffering or pain. Sometimes He sends us straight into it. O how awesome it would be if we felt no pain at all? How awesome it would be for our temporary bodies, which love pleasure more than anything.
God’s grace is sufficient, but if He never told us, we would not guess it, not when we’re passing through the fire and the waves. In this world, we would have to strive against sin and against the desires of our flesh that war against the desires of God’s Spirit. It’s painful. It feels like dying.
I have in no way mastered this struggle. All I have is my suffering, my hardship, my countless failures, and God’s revealed word. Sometimes I wonder if there would be total victory on this side of heaven, if at least I can be like Paul who beat his body daily, or Christ who strove against sin until bloodshed. I sincerely hope there would be such a breakthrough, but for ordinary folks like us (of which Apostle Paul was a member), we must persevere in faith, submitting our desires, and our flesh to be put under. We must say, “Here I am to do Your will, LORD, help me for I have no other hope.”
Help me, Lord Jesus. You are my only hope. My help comes from God alone.
My deliverance is in Jesus Christ alone
O what a wonderful deliverance it is
O what a wonderful God You are
What great mercy and salvation
YAHWEH has availed for me
Faithfully will I seek You, Lord my Righteousness
Fiercely will I depend on Your grace
Humbly will I seek Your face
My deliverer! My shield! Gracious God!
It was freedom unto freedom that You set me free
I have help always from the LORD
He will deliver me
I cannot escape Your Spirit
If I make my bed in hell, behold You are there
I will take shelter under Your wings
LORD, God, Shaddai!