Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Work, Selfishness and Christ's Strength

Since we moved, my workload has been a bit easier, now that we are back to one kiddo.  It has been a nice break, and good timing to coincide with the last half of this pregnancy.

But in the midst of this gift of rest, I have noticed sin subtly sneaking into my heart.  Selfishness.  And lots of it.  Just like all idolatry, I am taking a good gift from God (in this case, rest and down time) and turning it into something that I prize more than God.  I am loving the gift more than the giver.  I like rest, and I don't want my workload to increase again (as it inevitably will do in about a month).

And then someone pointed out something a few weeks ago which messed me up.  Our small group leader mentioned the account of Joseph from the Bible (which I happened to be reading at the time) and made the point that every time Joseph received more blessing from God his workload increased.  This happened three times: first, when he was placed in Potipher's house, secondly when he was in prison, and thirdly when he was made second in command to Pharaoh.  This is quite counter to our nature, as we often believe (especially because of American culture) that life should be easier when God is blessing us.

Since then, I have been wrestling with this sin in my heart.  On one hand, I want God's blessing and I want to work hard to serve him to my full capacity and not hold anything back.  On the other hand, I think back on very busy/difficult times of life (like when we had the sibling set of four foster kids or when we first got baby boy R and he cried all day while I had horrible morning sickness) and I just don't want to have to go through these things again.
'A heavy burden' photo (c) 2013, Alf Melin - license:

But then I came across something this week that really helped bring all the pieces together in my head.  I am reading "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs with some ladies from church and this quote really hit me:

"Now if a man has a burden to bear, and yet can have strength added to him- if the burden is doubled, he can have his strength trebled- his burden will not be heavier but lighter than it was before to his natural strength... Though you cannot tell how to bear it in your own strength, yet how can you tell what you will do with the strength of Jesus Christ?  You say you cannot bear it?  So you think that Christ could not bear it?  But if Christ could bear it, why could you not come to bear it?" (p. 63)

So, with Christ's strength, a difficult burden can even become lighter than an everyday burden.  This is good news and comforting to know.  It doesn't mean that God WILL triple our strength so that our burden actually becomes lighter, but we should seek this blessing from him, knowing that he can easily provide it.  In fact, we should not rest from petitioning him until he does increase our strength.  Burroughs wraps up this thought this way:
"You must not therefore be content with a little strength, so that you are able to bear what a man might bear by the strength of reason and nature, but you should be strengthened with all might, according to the glorious power of God, unto all patience and all longsuffering." (p. 64)
To be strengthened with ALL might, unto ALL patience and ALL longsuffering?  Sounds like just what a mama needs.

Christian, let us not be content with little strength.  Let us seek greater strength to bear greater burdens, to the glory of God.

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