When I Cannot
By Ps Dev Menon
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Three weeks ago, I was really unwell. Whatever the virus, it took my breath away, and I was nearly hospitalised. I’m not sure why it was so serious, since the rest of the family only had minor symptoms, where else I was incapacitated for two weeks. Perhaps my body was exhausted from working 12-14 hour days for several months in a row. The following week was equally bad. All the coughing affected my vocal cords, and I could barely speak.
Why did this happen? I thought of four reasons:
Firstly, God was teaching me to rest. This was His mandated break. Now,
I am quite careful about looking after myself. I exercise 3-4 times a week, sleep at least 6-7 hours a day, and eat relatively healthily. I also am extremely strict to keep Sabbath on Mondays – spending time alone, with God and with my wife. Yet this is insufficient, and God is the only one who knows what we truly need. So this was a time of God-care – my Father looking out for me – something way more effective than self-care.
Secondly, God was reminding me of my limitations. In ministry, it’s very easy to think that we are the only ones making things happen, moving the church. We work hard to be faithful to our calling to make every member mature. Yet every now and then God reminds us that we are human beings, with limited resources. Even when we are not available, He is still in charge, and ministry still happens. I think that is a liberating rather than debilitating thing. We are working with Him, for Him and in Him – and there are limitless resources at our disposal.
Thirdly, God was showing me that His power is displayed in weakness. Some of the most powerful sermons I have ever preached (based on feedback and memory) have been those I have preached hoarsely. God supplied the strength, God touched the hearts. I think me speaking slower also helped! 😊 Last Sunday was no different, I believe the sermon on “Why Personal Discipleship” – crafted on the sickbed, spoken without voice – was powerfully used. God made me weak so that the message could become strong.
Fourthly, God was showing the church how much work there is to do. Why do the pastors, elders, BOD & staff work so hard – such that many have gone through serious illness or fatigue? Because there is so much work to be done. The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Sometimes when the church runs smooth, people assume things are going well. Yet the reality is, that there is an overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done, and the number of people we have to teach, model and disciple is hardly enough! I pray that my illness will move many others to step up to do this critical work.
Friends, never waste an illness. God has much to say in our weakness!