“There’s no hope, his condition simply will not improve.”
The doctor’s words sucked the air out of the room as quickly as they tumbled off his lips. I began to feel lightheaded and excused myself while my husband and the doctor spoke about my husband’s chronic condition.
As I stepped outside into the steamy summer afternoon, I began to cry uncontrollably. The burdens of this dreadful season had chipped away at my sense of purpose and hope. As the tears fell and my frustrations welled up inside me, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart.
“Jenny, I’ve called you to be confident and courageous in this battle.”
Immediately my excuses began. I didn’t “ feel” confident and courageous. I felt defeated and deflated. I had been struggling with allowing my feelings to be moved and manipulated by sight. Everything I saw around me scared me. The news scared me. The stories I heard of struggles from friends and family scared me. The things that were happening in my life scared me. The unknown really scared me!
Right then, I posed a question to the Lord: God, show me how to remain confident in you during this battle. Show me how to persevere.
Have you walked through a season where everything you saw before you looked hopeless? You question if your prayers are being heard. You ask yourself if God is at work. You wonder if you’re walking this journey alone.
Over the next several weeks, the Lord began to show me what a confident and courageous heart looks like. In order to fully grasp what it means to be courageous and confident in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10), we must first examine what the opposite of courage and confidence looks like.
We’re going to visit another hero of the faith: King David. David’s story throughout the Scriptures is one of courage, perseverance, and faith. He embodies a confident and courageous heart. However, we’re going to see David during a time when he allowed his earthly sight to rule over his heart.
In 1 Chronicles 21, David asks his men to take a census of the army. As the commander in chief, it seems reasonable to find out how many men he has available to fight for the country. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, yet we find David’s motives deceive him.
By counting the Israelite men, David places his faith in the strength of his army. He is beginning to trust more in military power than in the power of God. Yikes! Oh, how my heart can relate to David.
Recently I found a journal entry from several years ago. It was during the same time my husband was in the thick of his storm. There was no light at the end of the tunnel and no end in sight to his suffering.
I penned these words one night:
One week from today we will go to yet another neurologist appointment. I’m not sure how many more I can take. It’s been two-and-a-half years. Two years of figuring this out, praying, fasting, doctors, medicines. Two years of patience, tear-soaked prayers, running to the altar, asking why, anger, denial, impatience, and being broken. Yet, recently something happened inside my heart it all ended, the striving, the trying to figure it out, the pleading with God. I’ve chosen to surrender.
For over two years I placed my trust in the strength of my “army” of doctors and new medicines; however, like David my heart wasn’t in the right place. My confidence was in my strength and abilities and those around me instead of the power of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we find a promise, a guiding light:
“But we have this precious treasure, the good news about salvation, in unworthy earthen vessels of human frailty, so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be shown to be from God—His sufficiency—and not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7 (AMP)
Confidence and courage lie in acknowledging our human frailty–rejoicing in it even as Paul describes—and allowing God’s mighty power not our own to fight our battles. Courage comes when we raise the white flag and surrender our “armies” of self-sufficiency. Confidence arrives when we fix our eyes on the power of God in our lives and not in what we see.
God-dependency is all about our perspective. It’s about what we choose to “see.” Will we look at our earthly treasures like possessions and positions as having the power to save or will we allow the power of God to be revealed in our lives?
Through the story of Gideon, we see a man who understands his place in God’s greater story. He understands courage and confidence come when you lay down your strength in exchange for God’s strength. He knows doubts, insecurities, and fear, yet he answers the call to be courageous and strong in the Lord, not in himself.
What does this say to us? Instead of being women who shout, “She believed she could, so she did,” our declaration is “She believed she could, and so He did!” All our battles are opportunities for God to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us.
The experience of my husband’s chronic illness taught me that when I allow God to work and stop striving in my own sufficiency, I can see God’s peace and presence during the battle. God is good and He longs for us to see His glory and His outstretched hand in the chaos of our lives, in our families, and in our world.
Our stories aren’t easy, the roads we travel are often broken. Our hearts long to see the promises of God fulfilled. Yet, sometimes during the suffering, the waiting, the unknown, we must choose to see . . . and we must choose to believe in the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power of God!