“Finding out what you’re made of”… I remember my dad telling me there were things in life that would come my way that would do precisely that… reveal my character; reveal my strength (or lack of it); reveal my wisdom (or lack of it); reveal my preparedness to face various challenges; and reveal who I really was deep within! I had coaches in athletic competition, teachers and other mentors in life who made the same point. I am grateful for them!
As the Children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land Moses reminded them: “Remember the whole way by which He [the Lord] has brought you these forty years through the desert so that he might, by humbling you, test you to see if you have it within you to keep his commandments or not. So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the LORD’s mouth.” (Deuteronomy 8:2–3 the NET Bible) He had shown them that they desperately needed the Lord in order to succeed! They needed to obey Him in order to be blessed! By their own ingenuity and strength they would have perished in the wilderness and have been destroyed by their enemies! A pretty important lesson, don’t you think?
Apostle Paul in the New Testament testified to an incredible challenge that he once faced and what he learned from it: “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia: We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead!” (2 Corinthians 1:8–9 the NET Bible)
So I guess the lesson I’ve learned is this: The challenges I’ve faced have taught me a lot about myself… and a lot about the sustaining grace and provision of the Lord! All by myself I am weak and insufficient – I fail. Within myself I find frightening, evil tendencies. In Him, however, I find strength! His presence within cleanses, purifies, transforms and empowers me. So two truths co-exist: On the one hand Apostle Paul said, “I know that nothing good lives in me – I want to do the good, but I cannot do it!” (Romans 7:18) And Jesus reminded us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing!” (John 15:5). But on the other hand Paul had discovered and declared: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13)
Let’s just put it this way today… Every day I’m learning what I’m made of… AND I’m also discovering just how much I need Him and just how sufficient He is!