I’m a pretty decent judge of time in these scenarios, so I know it’s been about an hour. 11:30 – that means I’ll get 7 hours, okay that’s still fine.
Another hour goes by. And another. 1:30 – 5 hours, perfect.
Another hour, and finally, I slip into sleep.
Then I’m awake. It’s 6:30 and my eyelids feel like 50 lb weights. I force myself out of bed, into the bathroom with my eyes still shut.
I sit down on the floor and I pray:
“Lord, give me energy today. I can’t do this without you and I know it. I’m too tired. Please help me.”
Suddenly I’m reminded of being a leader at Young Life camp. Going to sleep past midnight, hanging out with high school girls I love dearly, then waking up at 6 for the leader meeting with swollen eyes and a head that feels like a bowling ball. I remember praying this same prayer every morning at those camps, knowing I was too tired to do anything of worth on my own. And that was the best part of those weeks. I experienced God in incredible ways. Girls met Jesus, fell in love with Him and wanted to talk to me about it, but I knew I was too tired to have had any real part in that other than being there to listen and encourage. He had done it all.
Despite being incredibly tired yesterday, it was one of the best worship experiences I’ve ever had. I was jumping on stage, dancing like I hadn’t a care in the world, and burnt 400 calories at the end of it all.
I had nothing to give, and those are the moments God works through us best. When we let our pride and our self-sufficiency fall away and just let Him move.
We sang a song called Come to the Altar, and one of the lines is “have you come to the end of yourself?” and it stuck out to me every time I sang it, because that is what God desires from us.
He wants us to realize we need Him. Just like we want to feel needed, He desires this from us, His children.
This exhaustion was God speaking to me, reminding me that I am limited. It had a purpose. It always does.
Following Jesus includes grace and forgiveness, but it’s more than that. It’s a call on our lives to represent Him to the world, to show the freedom He gives and the abundance of His love for us. But, we are still sinful. We are proud, stubborn, and selfish. We are inherently self-absorbed.
God is gracious enough to remind us of our need for His strength.
How easily do we forget we need Him? We need His grace to love people who wrong us. We need His strength to endure pain and loss. We need His gentleness to give to others who are hurting. We need His heart for the lost to keep us kingdom-focused. We need His forgiveness when we’re too proud to admit we’ve wronged someone or when we continually struggle with the same sin over and over. We need the cross daily because we aren’t perfect until we see Him face to face.
We so easily forget that our human strength is futile in comparison to Him.
If you struggle in life, it’s never in vain.
It’s a loving reminder from God of His desire for you to rely on Him. It’s a message: when you are weak, then you are strong. (2 Cor 12:10).
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Cor 1: 9
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
The next time I can’t sleep, I won’t freak out and cry (this is what normally happens), but instead, I’ll look forward to what God has to teach me through it. For when I am weak, then I am strong.