I didn't sleep well last night. I haven't been sleeping well for the past several nights.
Despair has been building up in me, little by little, with each crisis that has passed since April--crises that I felt I had survived and handed over to God. However, symptoms of despair suggest that I have not survived as well as I thought. I've tried to be proactive--watching Dallas Willard and John Ortberg's dvd, Living in Christ's Presence; keeping my daily quiet time no matter what time I woke up; praying about everything; doing Bible studies; keeping Scripture before me; teaching Sunday School and staying for worship. However, the symptoms kept returning.
Then about an hour ago, I read Jennifer Rothschild's first of 15 faith-building devotionals (to sign up go here). The Bible verse in Jennifer's devo was: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I realized then that although I had prayed, I had not given thanks for my circumstances. I knew I needed to give thanks for everything that had been and was going on in my life. Even for what I had been continuing to feel for several days...that somehow life would never get better for me. That I would continue to live from one crisis to another and sink further and further into anxiety despite the fact that I was clinging to what I knew to be true--my God is faithful, my God loves me.
So I got on my knees and thanked God for my helplessness, for not being able to pull myself out of despair, for my lack of control of anything that goes on in my life. I thanked Him for the sleepless night and my sleeping late today. I thanked Him for all of my weaknesses and failures--as much as I hated to face them and admit them--and as I did name them and thanked God for them I saw how they made me need God and His strength, to always need His grace and His mercy, to always need a Savior and Lord. I remembered Paul saying he gloried in his weaknesses that Christ's power may rest on Him. (Romans 5:3; 2 Corin. 12:9-10) So I told God I wanted to be like Paul and glory in my weaknesses.
And I realized how much God loved me despite myself. I thanked Him for my salvation, for His wonderful love and faithfulness, for His not rejecting me or despising me for my weaknesses. And as I prayed, I cannot put into words what I began to feel, except to say that I finally felt free--free! I still feel that way!
Dallas Willard has said that spiritual transformation will come as we obey God. God wants us to thank Him in all circumstances--good or bad--because we know that He is able to work all things together for good. He is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think. Because we know that when we are weak, He is strong!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18