Jab. Hardly have the words hit you before you fling a response back, throwing off pain like a projectile. As the volleys continue, the shards of anger grow, sharpening, till finally they pierce and trigger the flood. What has been stewing inside comes tumbling out, mixed with words like always, never, why can’t you. The air around you cracks and splinters and falls crashing about you. When the heat becomes unbearable, one of you walks out.
As your thoughts and emotions begin to cool down, they seem to thicken. This is not the way I want to live, you tell yourself, the frustration beginning to rev up again. But you also feel powerless to change. And each time the same situation happens again, the dull, leaden weight inside you grows a little, pressing down. When it seems too hard to change yourself, the usual choice is to change your situation. So most people quit, break up, move out, and try to move on—causing broken marriages, broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams.
Each of us lives with certain shortcomings, but sometimes they become a cause for a great deal of unhappiness, an object of strife—sometimes it is the temper you have, the anger inside you that flares up suddenly at any provocation; sometimes a bad habit that sparks criticism from others and compounds the frustration in you. You face the reality that you don’t have the will, the resources in you, to overcome. The truth is, the power to change yourself does not lie in you. It is found in the God whose strength and will is higher and greater than yours.
“He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” wrote a man named Paul, whose own weakness he likened to a thorn in his side. Yet Paul understood that the source of transformation, of making right his life, was not in himself, but in the God in whom he placed his trust. In his suffering, Paul cried out and received this response from above: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). When we feel powerless, we can turn to and rely on the power of God.
Indeed, the Bible tells us that “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). When we had nothing going for us, when we were unworthy of God’s favor—and at just the right moment—the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life for ours. Through His death, God established the way for you to receive new life in Him, and to receive His Spirit in you.
What does that mean? It means that when you submit to God’s way, He will empower you to surmount the challenges you face through His Spirit dwelling in you. You can become a better person through the new life, His life, which He will give you. God’s love is such that He asks for nothing in return: only that you believe. And so Paul prayed: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you [may]… know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” From his own experience he could testify: God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph 3:16-20).
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