Strength out of Weakness

9 Months In

I can’t believe that just 9 months ago, I was preparing to come to Korea, wondering what my 10-month experience would be like, clueless that the 10-month plan would soon become an open-ended, no-end-in-sight plan.

So much has changed since then. The changes are so overwhelming that I lose my bearings at times.

Who am I? What has happened to me? I take a look around me, and my life is nothing like I ever imagined it would be. I peek into my future and see a vast unknown. It’s exhilarating and scary all at once.

Yet underneath the tumultuous emotions, I feel at peace. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Being Stretched

The past month has been crazy. Apartment hunting and giving my big piano recital to culminate my Fulbright studies almost did me in. Commuting. Communicating. Practicing. I had to fight a lot of inner demons, navigate new challenges. My energy was drained in all directions at once.

During a commute home after a particularly exhausting day, the Lord said to me,

I’m going somewhere with all this. Are you ready to run with me?

I was deeply encouraged that He had a purpose for all the turmoil, but was running really necessary? I felt too tired to think, much less run. But of course I ended up saying, Yes. Perhaps not very energetically. But He has unconditional claim to me.

So I’ve been running with Him these past few weeks. And He has revealed strength and perseverance in me I didn’t know I had.

Perceived Weakness

I used to think I was weak, because I am so emotional. But God has been revealing that not only am I stronger than I thought, but that what I always perceived as my greatest weakness is actually my greatest strength.

You could even say it has become my greatest weapon.

At a church retreat last month, a speaker preached about Moses. He pointed out that the miracles God did through Moses came through an ordinary instrument: the staff that happened to be in Moses’ hand when he encountered God.

Just as God used that stick to display His power and glory to Egypt and Israel, so He wants to use the ordinary-seeming thing in our hand for His glory now. He doesn’t want to give us some new gift, He wants to use that ordinary thing we have been overlooking in ourselves. It is already in us!

“I already know what God wants to use in me,” I thought to myself, “it’s obvious. He wants to use my musical talent.”

Then I started crying during the prayer time, and God said, Nope, this is what I want to use. What you devalue about yourself is the key: Your emotions.

Really?

Right then, someone tapped me on the shoulder and gestured to the stage. It was time to sing back-up for the closing worship song. My face was soaked with tears, but I did my best to wipe them off with my hands and went up anyway. I was too choked up to sing much, but I sensed the Lord saying it was okay. Just let me use you in this way. So I did.

I could kind of understand how me crying during worship could maybe be used by the Lord, but God took it much farther than that.

My Greatest Strength

This past month, the enemy did his best to isolate and discourage me, and I cried a lot.

But though my tears rarely felt holy or useful in any way, in my most vulnerable moments, amazing things happened. People I didn’t know very well showed me deep kindness and love. They held me, prayed for me, and practically forced me to tell them what was going on. My tears opened the doors to honest conversations, they built trust with people, broke off reservations in myself and those around me––they washed away barriers.

And while I was in the midst of sobbing uncontrollably during worship two Sundays ago (not up on stage, thank goodness), God spoke to me powerfully. He said,

It’s okay to feel emotions, even disappointment or hurt, because those emotions don’t change who you are. Who you are is established within you, and nothing can shake that out of you.

I can’t even describe the intense faith that rose up in me at that moment.

Becoming

So as I take a look around and get my bearings, as I take a look into myself and who I have become these past nine months, one thing is clear: I am much stronger than I used to be.

Because I am established in my identity in God, because I no longer let negative emotions rule me, because I am learning to rebuke the self-pitying tears while opening myself fully to the tears from God, my emotions and sensitivity have become my greatest strength. They are a powerful weapon that open shut doors and break down thick barriers.

I know this is only the beginning.

God is going to continue to refine and hone this part of me. He will continue to use my emotions and sensitivity in surprising, powerful ways. And I heartily say Amen. I don’t mind if I look foolish; I know who I am. May He be glorified in me.

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After living in South Korea for over 7 years, Elizabeth is back in the States finding a new normal. In the tension of brokenness, resilience, and conviction, she chooses faith and depends on grace. She leans into empathy, curiosity, divine whispers, and childlike wonder.

2 thoughts on “Strength out of Weakness

  1. As a fairly new believer I used to weep and weep whenever I would share in public about my conversion experience. I was touched by the His sheer grace and love. Often, I would have to stop in mid-sentence to try and collect myself. Sometimes I never even got to the end. Everyone always seemed so moved by it. But one day I decided I was tired of being so weak and looking like a fool and I told the Lord I’m not going to cry telling the story anymore. Well, the next time the opportunity came, I really worked hard to control my emotions. But I succeeded in not only keeping my eyes dry but everyone else’s as well. My testimony felt lifeless, flat. Noone was touched. I realized I had said ‘no’ to the Holy Spirit when I decided to try with all my strength to control my emotions. Needless to say it resulted in quick repentance. I learned to never say no to the Holy Spirit again even if I may look foolish in my own eyes.

    What a year you’re having! God continues to do amazing work in you. Bless the Lord! May He continue to pour out Himself in you. Blessings!

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