God often lets us walk in paths that are far beyond our ability to endure. When you’ve been awake every night for a week, toggling between a nursing baby and a toddler with the flu, you understand what “beyond your ability” means. But in the midst of our exhaustion, when we whisper, “I can’t — God please take over,” that’s when we can build our dependence on the one who won’t ever let us down. When Paul and Timothy faced situations that were beyond their ability to endure, they learned to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Rejoicing in Weakness
Later in Corinthians, Paul speaks of his weakness. He doesn’t just mention it in passing. He seems to advertise it, revel in it, even boasts in it. He tells his readers that he rejoices in his weakness. Why? Because in Paul’s weakness, Christ’s strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The Beatitudes also turn the world’s definition of power on its head. Jesus calls the ones who are meek, the ones who mourn, the ones who are poor in spirit “blessed” (Matthew 5:5–11). When we hear the mantra that we are “enough” on repeat, we are likely to stop rejoicing in our weakness, we don’t celebrate our poverty of spirit, we lessen our dependence on God. When I truly grasp that I’m not enough in my own strength, I don’t try to dig deep into myself to pull out resources that are running on empty. Instead, I dig into the word of God and pull out promises I can lean on.
When I am overwhelmed and have to count to three more times than I can actually count, I remember that [H]is divine power has given me everything needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). When I feel isolated as a mom, buried under an avalanche of wet wipes, I rest in [H]is promise that [H]e has engraved me on the palms of [H]is hands (Isaiah 49:16). And when I mess up as a mom, I don’t just brush away my sin with self-glorifying platitudes. Neither do I beat myself up. Instead, I go to the one who redeems my mistakes and gives me the grace to carry on (Psalm 103:12).
‘You Are Enough’ Is Not Enough
While articles or sermons telling women that we are enough are intended to vanquish self-doubt, perhaps they are misguided. “You are enough” puts the onus back on “you.” It’s a me-centric idea, where we’re called to scrape out every last bit of our so-called inner strength. But pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is not how we tend to our souls.
John Piper tells young mothers, “Constantly pray, pray, pray, pray for whatever you need. That is how you make your days an act of worship. And then there may not be in your mind such a huge gulf between tending to your child and tending to your soul.” We need to take it — all of it, from the sheer exhaustion to the certifiable insanity of raising little people — to the Lord in prayer. We look outside of ourselves to a God who wants to strengthen us and give us rest.
He promises to gently lead those that have young (Isaiah 40:11). The more liberating and empowering message we need to hear is this: Christ in you is more than enough. It’s a message that doesn’t hinge on self-reliance, but on God-dependence. It gives us room to discover that he is an all-sufficient God.
**This article originally appeared on Desiring God. Used with permission.