On my last blog post, I shared part of the context in which God has made me think about a theology of suffering as it pertains to motherhood. I shared about a big wave God used to grow my fearlessness as I found, to my profound delight, that my sufficiency was outside of myself (1 Pet. 3:1–6).”  Today I want to share about smaller, daily waves the Lord allows in my life that both threaten and build my joy in God.
Over the past year I figured out that I have an autoimmune condition that causes painful muscles, swollen joints and deep physical weakness and exhaustion. I have had to eliminate many foods that irritate my body’s autoimmune system. The list of foods I am sensitive to has grown a lot. Cooking is very time consuming as most of what I can eat has to be cooked from scratch. With two little girls in tow, an overseas move and readjusting to another country, meal planning and making can be a challenge.
Not only can it be frustrating to spend so much time in the kitchen each day but the Lord has also taken away most options for comfort food. At the end of the day, I cannot relax with chocolate, or ice cream or a glass of wine. What is left, you ask? (Ha! Minutes after I typed this paragraph, my husband walked in with a big bowl of Coffee Crunch ice cream and the look of someone who is thoroughly enjoying a treat. I am happy for him. Sort of. :-))
I also often miss not having the help of family nearby. I left my home in the Dominican Republic to marry my husband 5 years ago and recently moved again, half way across the world. We are not in proximity to either set of grandparents or aunts/uncles. In the DR not only was I close to my parents and siblings but also aunts and uncles and cousins. It is common for families there to enjoy each other constantly and the proverbial village is involved in the care of your children. With our girls being the age they are I so miss having grandparents and aunts living close by. I wish the girls could know well people that are so precious to me. I have at times found myself daydreaming what it would be like to be able to call my mom or sister and say, “I am in a lot pain and feel very weak. Could I drop the girls off??” knowing they would jump at the chance of taking care of them! There were quite a few mornings in Ohio when as my husband left to go to work, tears rolled off my cheeks because I didn’t want to be left alone taking care of our daughters all day, especially those days when my symptoms had flared up.
Are these unbearable kinds of suffering? Not really. But they are daily reminders of brokenness in this world and in my body. There is a battle being fought in the midst of physical pain, deep fatigue, loneliness, coupled with sibling quarrels, my preschooler’s demands, multiple potty accidents a day, and inability to fully enter into uninterrupted conversations. It is a battle for joy in God, a battle against strong temptation to doubt His goodness and love; a battle against many sins—anger, impatience, bitterness, resentment.
Through these circumstances, the Lord is reorienting my longings and the source of my joy. Through my food allergies, He is making me taste that Jesus is enough when comfort food is not an option. He often reminds me of a Wedding Feast I am looking forward to where Christ himself will serve me an scrumptious meal that will lead me to worship Him and enjoy HIM forever! (Luke 12:37). He is also making me increasingly aware that He alone is my hope, as I navigate food sensitivities. How quickly I want to put my hope for health in the food I eat. Even as I seek to be a good steward of my body and health, I cannot control the outcome. He knows the weakness I need to have and for how long.
Through my daily trials the Lord has opened my eyes to the privilege of being with Jesus every day as my husband goes to work and I am left “alone.” If he didn’t go to work each morning or if my mom was down the street I wouldn’t get to experience that Christ is truly with me. I often want the comfort of my husband’s strong arms and reassuring presence in my day to day. But what I ultimately truly need and actually yearn for is something I already have– the real, abiding presence of Jesus who is near (Phil. 4: 5b) and who is “with me always, even to the end of the age” as I make disciples in my home (Matt. 28: 20).
As I deal with physical pain and fatigue, Christ is teaching me to embrace weakness. When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe this title of a book by J.I. Packer: “Weakness is the Way: Life with Christ our Strength.” Just the title breathed hope to my heart and gave perspective about my weaknesses. Because of our union with Christ, it is His power which powerfully works in us. Christ’s strength is irrevocably our own. What an astounding truth and what a comfort to this heart of mine. There is no need for me to be ashamed of my weaknesses and the limitations God has given me in skill and circumstances. A friend
encouraged me recently with the reminder that we have a Happy God, who leverages our limitations and weaknesses to showcase His glory. He is not frustrated by the season in life I am in, or the things I am unable to do. If I had all the energy in the world, if homemaking came naturally to me and I had all the help I wished at my fingertips, I wouldn’t know what it means to boast in my weakness so the power of Christ could rest in me. But as it is, I am blessed because “my strength is in [the Lord]” (Psalm 84: 5).
Friend, these are some of the lessons the Lord is having me rehearse over and over these days. I would love to hear from you. What are the smaller waves in your life? What is God using to make you despair of your strength? What verses feed your hope in Jesus as you go through your day? Maybe you are not married or have no children of your own, but you are discipling younger women, and bearing spiritual children in the Lord. How are you experiencing weakness? And in that, how is Christ giving you His strength?
I will be taking Sundays off during this month. So, see you Monday! Thank you for visiting me here.
 Paraphrasing the editors of Mom Enough, Edited by Tony and KaraLee Reinke