I am often blessed by life experiences that exemplify and illustrate Bible truths.
For example, I decided to cut some wood one day this week. There were three medium-sized trees on our property that were dead. I had, for a long time, intended to cut them down for firewood. Since I felt rather good that particular day, I set about the task.
But, as I attempted to cut down the first one, it got hung up in the tops of other trees. In the past when that type of thing happened, I usually had good enough strength to grab the butt of smaller trees and keep pulling it back till it was free enough in the tops to fall to the ground.
Stopping the saw and setting it down, I proceeded to position myself to pull backward on the butt. But, after several attempts, I found I could not budge it whatsoever. I just did not have the strength to make any progress. As a matter of fact, I have no strength to lift or pull much of anything these days. It is somewhat disconcerting to my ego.
After inwardly fussing at myself a bit for being so physically weak, it occurred to me to get my truck and chain to pull the tree down. I could not pull the tree down on my own. I needed help. So, looping the chain around the tree and hooking the chain to my truck, the truck and chain provided the sufficient potential and strength needed to pull that pesky tree down.
Without the help, the task would not have gotten done. I could still be out there trying to pull that tree down. But, all I had to do was to submit to sources of greater strength for the goal to be accomplished. Praise to the truck! Praise to the chain!
But, the whole experience that day for me reinforced the strength of a critical Bible truth. It comes from a lesson learned by the Apostle Paul about which he passed along to us. In so many terms, his physical life had him stumped like a tree hung up in the tops. But, what he learned was that he did not have the capability of remedying his problem on his own. He needed help, and nothing would get done unless he got the most needed help of all.
At least, that is essentially what God told him. It is not so much what God did as what God told him and taught him. “My grace is sufficient for you,” God told him. “For my strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.” What Paul in his weakness could not accomplish, God could accomplish despite Paul’s weakness — that is, if Paul would embrace God’s insight.
God teaches and tells us the same thing. The truth of the matter is that we all encounter emotional, or mental, or spiritual problems which we cannot resolve on our own. Reasons vary as to why we do not have the strength ourselves to resolve the problems on which we get hung up, but the reason for weakness does not exacerbate our problem as much as not depending upon the strength of God and allowing God to work out His grace-filled will.
You know, I became exceeding strong when I employed the truck and chain.
So, you have a problem that has you hung up. There is nothing wrong if you do not have the strength or wherewithal to resolve the issue. God has truck-and-chain strength, and you become exceeding strong when you rely on God.
God’s strength is made perfect in our lives when we remember two things in particular. First, give God time. Sometimes God takes time to manifest the resolve involved with His sufficient grace and perfect strength. After all, it took a few minutes for me to get out the chain and get the truck. Second, trust God. His chain is strong. His truck is sturdy. Trusting in God is a reliable resource that does not disappoint. Lack of trust in God means it does not get done.
One more thing about the tree cutting: After getting the one tree down, I decided to leave the other two for another day. Maybe I will regain some of my strength in due course.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.