My husband was deployed. I was living thousands of miles from family with a three-and-a-half year old and an almost two-year old. And this youngest child was sick. Very sick.
Pneumonia. Thankfully the doctor understood my husband was gone and I had another child to care for, so she had me bring our son in for daily checkups instead of hospitalizing him.
This was a difficult time for me, full of trips to the doctor, timed medications, and sleeping in spurts. But God began to call my attention to something. When I stripped away all the emotions, all the fears, all the possibilities–I was left with one question: Is God enough?
I had to expand this to big pieces of my life. I began to ask myself: Is He enough company when I’m lonely, living far from the people I love? Is He enough to sustain me when life is exhausting? Is He enough to carry me if the worst possible news were to hit my doorstep?
Was He ever enough?
When I stopped squirming and rationalizing and really began to wrestle with this question, God pointed me to the Apostle Paul. Let’s take a moment to remember his life.
He was trained by Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers of his time (Acts 5:34, 22:3). He acted on his beliefs, stepping out boldly against Christianity when he believed that it stood against God (Acts 7:54-8:3). And when Jesus changed his mind, Paul was just as zealous in proclaiming the Gospel, taking it to city after city during three different missionary journeys (Acts 13-21). He says,
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)
Paul was a man’s man. He was independent, self-sufficient, and frequently self-supporting. He was not a man to complain. And yet, one thing got him down. He says, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”
I still remember the first time that last part really hit me. A man who had survived beatings and floggings and shipwrecks would not be easily intimidated, yet he pleaded with the Lord to have this thorn in his flesh removed.
I can so identify with this moment in Paul’s life! I remember another time when life was beating us up. A commander didn’t believe my husband’s diagnosis and was making life difficult. I wanted to escape his grasp, for God to pummel him into submission, or at least help him to change his heart and be more sympathetic. We trudged through months with this man in charge of my husband’s career, and we were miserable.
We’re not told what Paul’s irritation was. Many have speculated various physical ailments, while others have suggested it was a mental, emotional, or even spiritual condition. We don’t know. But we do know that he desperately wanted to escape from it.
And God said no. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9).
Paul responded well. He was willing to soak in that answer and let Christ’s power rest on him. I did not respond as graciously to the commander’s continued presence in our lives. Perhaps that’s why we lingered within his grasp for so long.
I needed to know that God was enough
You see, God wanted me to get this lesson concreted into my very core. I needed to know better than I know my name that God is enough. The pneumonia wasn’t the end of illnesses in our family, and the difficult Commander was just a foreshadowing of a later problem. More trials were coming, and I needed to be unshakable in my knowledge that God is enough.
Hebrews 5:8 talks about Jesus learning obedience through what He suffered. Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is our refuge, strength, and ever-present help in trouble. I can tell you that I don’t remember these things perfectly, but when storms hit my heart, I now tend to default very quickly to these truths.
I no longer wonder if God cares when I’m lonely, or if He is big enough or strong enough to handle the storm around me. My heart doesn’t question His goodness when troublesome people stand before me. Sure, I sometimes complain, and I often ask God what He is doing. But through the deployments, through the sicknesses, through the problems, I remember this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Are you facing a sickness or problem right now that has you wondering if God is enough?
Part of this blog post is an excerpt from the soon-to-be released ebook short series, Beyond Warrior’s Bride. It will be available on Kindle starting March 2015. Be watching on my Facebook author page for the cover reveal!