This past week my faith was put to the test. And I’m sad to say that I stumbled and fell. In fact, I face-planted. It was an epic fail!
My family has been planning a big renovation on our front porch for a while now. I knew that this project was going to be bigger than some others we have done in the past. And I knew that it would require a lot of time and physical labor. Because we usually do all of the work ourselves, I wanted to have everything else done and be able to concentrate all of my efforts on the porch reno. As the time to start the project grew closer, I began making preparations for it. I managed to get the laundry caught up, the meals planned and groceries bought, my blog post written, and anything else I could think of.
But there was one thing I couldn’t foresee coming my way. Right in the middle of the porch reno, I started to get bug bites all over my body. They were small and itchy and more and more of them showed up every day. We had a flea infestation on our hands! I couldn’t understand why this was happening. We don’t have any pets right now and we treated the yard for bugs like we do every summer. But here I was, covered in flea bites from head to toe. It was awful and we’ve never had anything like this happen before. I was at a loss as to what to do.
I really didn’t want to take the time to deal with it. But it reached critical mass about three days into the reno and I realized I had no choice but to stop and deal with this distraction. Since I was waking up with new bites every morning, we thought that the majority of the fleas were coming from my bed. So, after reading online about how to get rid of my unwanted house guests, we bought some flea powder and sprinkled it all over the bed. The instructions on the powder said to let it sit for a while so went back to work on the porch. We spent the next few hours out in the heat, tearing up the front porch and peering up the joist boards.
Honestly, by the time we came in to vacuum up the flea powder, I was hot, sweaty, itchy, and tired. I was really spent. But I couldn’t lay down and rest with all of that flea powder on the bed, so I started sweeping it up. My mind began to wander, and all I could think about was how miserable I felt. It started as a simple thought, “Thanks a lot God, I really needed this right now!” Immediately I regretted that thought. And immediately I wanted to take it back. But there it was, for God to hear. That thought took hold of me and filled me with shame and regret.
This one moment of weakness made me question my faith. Not because of God, but because of me. If I was so weak that I couldn’t get through this little bump in the road, then how could I ever be an effective witness for Christ?
But God reminded me, I’m not saved because of anything that I have ever done or will ever do. I don’t have that kind of power. I am saved because of grace. Period.
God is good, isn’t He? I turned to Him and asked for forgiveness. He took the shame and regret that consumed my mind and replaced it with this verse from 2 Corinthians. I’ve been thinking about this verse last few days.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The apostle Paul was arguably the greatest Christian to ever live. Yet, he needed God’s grace in his life too. He stumbled and felt weak. But when times were tough, he didn’t give up his faith. He persevered and turned to God for strength. As I prayed, these words Paul wrote so many years ago, became the beacon of hope that helped me get back up and continue on in the faith.
“lest I be exalted above measure”
Maybe I needed to be knocked down so that God could lift me back up. I definitely needed some perspective on the situation. It’s not as bad as I had made it out to be. God has seen me through worse than a few fleas, much worse.
“a messenger of Satan to buffet me”
I knew that Satan was the one tripping me up. He was waiting for a time when he could sneak in and kick me while I was down. I had been on the lookout for him, but he chose his time perfectly. Because of my weakness, I let my guard down. At that moment I felt like he had won. But he did not win. And he will never win. Because I belong to Jesus and no one can ever change that!
“My strength is made perfect in weakness”
My weakness was on display in my heart that day. I let it get the best of me. But as Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” There is so much I can’t do on my own and I need Jesus to give me His strength. In those times, I’m so glad that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
“My grace is sufficient for you”
My salvation comes from God’s power and the saving grace of Jesus, and nothing else. He has saved me because I can’t save myself. It’s God’s grace that gives me the ability to move past this moment of weakness and find the strength to persevere. Because His grace is more than enough to see me through.
I would never have thought that something as small as a flea could test my faith in such a big way. While the renovation and the fight against the fleas is not over, my faith is still intact. And after taking time to reflect, I realize… I may have had an epic fail, but God’s grace is more powerful than any moment of weakness. He is always faithful to forgive and restore me to His love and grace just as He promises. And He will do the same for you.
If your faith is being tested or, like me, you’ve had an epic fail, I pray that you will be comforted by the words of 2 Corinthians. And that you will know God’s grace is sufficient for you. He will see you through it, because of grace.