Hearing God at the End of a Bad Day
- 2009 26 Jan
At the end of a particularly tough day I found myself in a reflective mood. I didn’t like what I was seeing as I reflected on the quality of my work. I was feeling overwhelmed and quite insufficient, when out of nowhere the Holy Spirit broke through and said:
“You are insufficient but I am sufficient.”
I kid you not. This Baptist actually heard the voice of God! Where did that come from, I said to no one in particular.
The “no one in particular” must have heard me, because He said back to me: “2 Corinthians.”
2 Corinthians? I found my Bible and turned to 2 Corinthians and began reading at chapter 1 until I came to the verses undoubtedly the Holy Spirit was pointing me to:
For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:8-9).
Beyond strength. Despairing of life. Sentence of death. Ever had one of those days?
Those words described perfectly my mental and spiritual state as I reflected on what was a less than stellar completion of the day’s tasks. But through these words in 2 Corinthians the Holy Spirit reminded me, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When I have performed less than my best I am caused to recognize my real failure, which wasn't a terrible performance in and of itself, but the confidence that I was somehow sufficient in myself.
When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
There’s that voice again! The Holy Spirit reminded me that not only does my total incapacity apply to my salvation, but it extends even to the tasks of show preparation, sermon preparation, meetings, telephone calls and a hundred other uncatalogued events that take place on any given day as I work toward the goal of completing my tasks with perfection. While I must do the preparation, the Holy Spirit was saying, “you, Paul, are insufficient." Preparation, while necessary, is not enough. Preparation is an offering, a sacrifice to the God on whose sufficiency alone we depend.
Failure is guaranteed if we don’t do our homework or are too lazy to prepare for the task. We must prepare, but we must also recognize that preparation alone is not enough. Sometimes a bad performance is due to circumstances beyond our control, and many times it is evidence of depending only on ourselves and not on the sufficiency of Christ.
When we do less than our best even after we have done our best, God brings us face to face with the reality of our own insufficiency so that He can overwhelm us with grace, causing us to rely on Him—the one who raises the dead! Under normal circumstances, when you die, everything is hopeless. But not with God. There are no circumstances beyond His control.
God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or imagine.
That voice! God alone is able to overcome the circumstances beyond my control and cause me to be sufficient where clearly I am insufficient.
So the reality is, while I had a bad day, it didn't kill me. And if it had killed me, God was able to overcome that, too. And if he is able to overcome utter hopelessness, He can certainly use a bad day to remind me to stop being so reliant on myself. He can use a bad day to ultimately glorify Himself.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
There’s that voice again!
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God… (2 Cor. 3:4).
Posted January 26, 2009.
Paul Edwards is the host of The Paul Edwards Program, a columnist and pastor. His program is heard daily on WLQV in Detroit and on godandculture.com. Contact him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.