I recently read a devotion in which physical weakness was described as a gift of fragility from God. While some have been gifted with physical strength and energy to zip through life, others have been given the “sacred treasure” of fragility. (From “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.)
This devotion brought me to tears.
I am very familiar with what the Lord told Paul when he prayed three times for healing in his body: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I have quoted that Scripture verse to myself countless times through the years, depending on its truth for even the simplest tasks.
But I have never considered my physical fragility to be a gift.
My journey to fragility began with a life-changing experience: a hard fall…feet flying out from under me…a full body twist…bouncing off both my knees…ending up lying flat on my back. I must have looked like a cartoon character.
Within a year, I had bone-on-bone arthritis in my knees.
For years, I coped with the pain and continued with my life. I worked full time. I raised my two sons who were still at home. I was active in ministry both inside church and out in the community.
I did the things I did, because God’s grace is sufficient. He gave me strength, both physically and spiritually, and He blessed me with good helpers. All glory to Him!
I couldn’t have lived my life fully or ministered for the Lord if it wasn’t for Him. Pain was my constant companion, but God was my more powerful and gracious Constant Companion.
Fast forward many years through limping, using a cane, using a wheelchair and scooter, having knee and hip replacements, still needing another knee replacement, anticipating a referral to a spine specialist, enduring a crooked body that is totally out of alignment, and still accompanied by my old companion pain . . . only it’s more like PAIN!!
I don’t have the energy or physical capability to do many things I used to do, simple every-day things. At times, I’m overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and uselessness. Before I let that push me into a pit of depression, I shake myself mentally and remind myself of all the blessings God has bestowed on me through the years . . . all the times He has carried me when I didn’t have strength.
It puts things back into perspective. I have so much for which to be thankful!
So. Fragile? Yes, I have been physically fragile for years. Yet I never considered it a gift from God.
I thought perhaps my physical condition was a situation He allowed so that I would draw closer to Him or learn lessons which I needed . . . but I never considered it a gift.
I thought once I had my knee and hip replaced, my life would change for the better, and I would be more independent again. Instead, I’ve had additional physical problems and face more surgeries and treatments. How could this be a gift?
My relationship with Christ and my involvement with my church family has been a driving force in my life since I was a child. I consider ministry for Jesus, inside and outside the four walls of the church, of utmost importance.
But in the last years when I’ve been confined to home and have missed so many church services and functions; when I haven’t been able to work in the church; when pain and disability overwhelmed me so that I missed doing the things I hold dear, I have sometimes been overwhelmed with feelings of failure and uselessness.
I’m thankful that my relationship with Jesus is strong. I couldn’t make it day to day without Him. He keeps me out of the pit of despair. But I’m human . . . and, as any person struggling with debilitating, chronic pain will tell you, it gets you down from time to time.
Since reading that devotion, I’ve struggled to wrap my mind around the concept that the “sacred treasure” of fragility is a gift from God.
I have felt like my physical situation caused me to be a disappointment to God.
Yet when I read that devotion, after I shed some tears, I realized that God has enabled me to have the time to do things the last several years because of my physical state. Things I wouldn’t have had time to do, if I had been able to work full time like my friends and family.
- Taking care of my grandchildren and having the opportunity to pour some of myself into their lives has been one of my greatest joys.
- Having time to write stories and books, that, according to feedback I’ve received, have encouraged other people is a blessing.
- Feeling the deepening need and call to intercede in prayer for so many friends and family members in distress is a privilege . . . one that I was often distracted from by daily life when I was physically stronger.
- Having time to do other little things that God has laid on my heart has been a joy.
So, yes, I’m seeing more clearly how physical fragility can be a gift from God.
Then, a couple of days ago, I received a card from a lady I went to church with years ago.
It was confirmation that God is not disappointed with me because of what I can or cannot do. (After all these years of walking with Him, you’d think I would have grasped that already!)
She quoted a verse from her devotion book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. She said when she was reading it, she heard my name.
Isaiah 61:3: “And provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They are called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
She added, “Wow, what a daughter you are unto the Lord! Just receive it.”
I appreciate her message! Sometimes I need to be reminded of what I already know deep in my heart. God loves me for who I am . . . not for what I do.
Sometimes, I need to be taught new truths. I am learning that fragility is, indeed, a gift from God.
Thank you, Lord, for all Your gifts!