Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Another dimension



We all understand what comprises a 2D drawing or 3D image. Maybe you’ve seen a 3D movie where the screen ‘comes to life.” At the outstanding 4D movie presentation of Beyond All Boundaries at the New Orleans World War II Museum, live actors appear to literally walk off the screen and onto the stage. You vividly experience the wind, the fog, the smells, and the vibrations from the explosions of war seemingly happening all around you.


Did you know that science does not restrict the study of dimensions to the physical realm? Mathematics and other sciences deal with abstract spaces quite independent of the physical space we perceive and live in.  And so we might consider another special dimension of life where we are in one certain physical place, surrounded and filled by real physical components, and yet at the same time quite separated from those elements:


Consider the spiritual dimension of God’s presence. The dimension of God’s presence is one of such closeness to Him that one can relate to and experience the “existence beyond the visible universe, departing from what is usual and normal especially so as to transcend the laws of nature.” (Quoted excerpt from Merriam Webster dictionary’s definition of supernatural).


Just as we enter the experience of a 4D movie theater by walking in and sitting down, we enter the spiritual dimension of God’s presence by making ourselves receptive to Him, by inviting Him to sit with us, and by responding to what He reveals to us. As a 4D movie can give us a glimpse of actually “being there,” even more so does entering the dimension of God’s presence give us a glimpse of heaven, on earth, here and now. It is putting oneself in a position that transcends our surroundings. Storms may prevail, but the sailor who dwells in God’s presence finds peace in the storm.


Paul calls this sufficient grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9). He shows us that we enter this grace by offering our body (our life) as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to God. Our experience of the dimension of God’s presence is measured by the ways become transformed by the renewing of our minds by His Spirit and His Word, and by not conforming to the ways of the world. And beyond simply transcending our circumstances, entering God’s presence reveals His purpose for our lives, His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)


Are you ready to experience the adventurous dimension of living that transcends the troubles and worries of this life? Make yourself receptive to Him and respond to His voice.


If you believe, you will see the glory of God. John 11:40


Strength when you are weak


Remaining in God’s presence renews us and leaves us refreshed.


The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19


Trying to help Marcia with a bit of yard work, I find myself so easily tired. I ‘work’ for five minutes and then sit down and rest for 5-10 minutes. I am constantly aware of my weakness; it is part of the leukemia landscape. How about you? Do you struggle with things that seem beyond your strength to endure? It might be a physical weakness, or maybe an emotional one. Or perhaps there is a weak chink in your spiritual armor and it seems that you are not strong enough to protect yourself from the temptation of doubt, fear, greed, gossip, anger, or any number of self-defeating and Spirit-grieving habits.


Here’s the bad news. You aren’t strong enough. .. On your own. Your self-reliant strength will never be enough to endure all that will confront you. You weren’t created to have super powers in all areas of life. The good news is that there is a Sovereign God whose strength IS sufficient. In fact, it is magnified and perfected in your weakness. Although we hate the feeling of being weak, that is precisely where we are able to find God’s strength. Author Sarah Young reminds us the key to accessing this strength is to connect with God; that in this moment by moment connection we are able to receive either the partial strength he gives us for the moment or the full abundant strength of God intends for us.


Entering into the presence of God refreshes and rejuvenates us. It allows us to hear the whispers of God as He speaks to us in our state of weakness. And so, we should not be discouraged by our weakness, but encouraged because it leads us into the presence of our Sovereign God whose grace is sufficient and strength is made perfect in our weakness. We are His temple, His sanctuary. Let His strength and glory reside in you.


Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Psalm 96:6-7



Hope while you wait

In addition to visiting with my sister who spoiled us during our memory making trip, and walking in the mountains, we were very glad to finally meet Jill Giallanza. Jill’s family and ours have been praying for each other over the last two years. When her husband went to heaven last spring, I felt I had lost a good friend I never had met. So meeting Jill at my sister’s house was a real blessing.

We talked about lessons learned during the struggles we each face and the hurts experienced in the journey. But also evident in Jill’s sharing was the real and sustaining hope in the reunion one day in heaven (what a day of rejoicing that will be!). Hope in knowing that deep dark places of great pressure are where gems are formed. As Pastor Dale said, “What is restored is worth more than it was before.” Hope in realizing the promise of God’s sufficient grace and strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Hope in waiting for the One who is always faithful, whose timing is never late.

Most of the time, that is our focus with this walk through Leukemia. Today marks the one year anniversary of my stem cell transplant, another “new life” anniversary. And still we wait, in hope, for the healing, restoration, and repurposing of our lives yet to come.

It is difficult to wait, isn’t it? We all want answers and resolution to our problems right now.  But wait we must when so much of life is beyond our control. Sometimes we have to wait for God’s presence to be made more evident in our daily life.  Are you waiting on God for an answer to prayer? We have a choice: wait in anxiety or wait in faith. Be strong and courageous because you wait on real promises that will not disappoint. “Say YES to your life, trusting God in your struggles.” (Sarah Young)

Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24



Profit from suffering

A friend shared a devotional thought from Charles Stanley. He talks about how most of us are quick to avoid suffering, both our own and the suffering of others. It makes us uncomfortable. It often seems so pointless. It takes us far out of our comfort zone, that cozy cocoon in which we like to shelter ourselves and isolate ourselves from pain. But pain and suffering are not without meaning. I’ve written of this in the past, but it bears repeating (at least to my ears).

Like I commented in the “jars of clay” post, suffering can bring us closer to God if we allow it. When confronted with forces we cannot control, we are reminded of how much we depend on God, sometimes for our very next breath. Stanley explains, “Your ultimate purpose should not be to achieve pleasure or happiness, but to know Christ and become like Him. Real trouble facilitates that goal, driving you closer to Him.” Drawing closer to Jesus and others is a profitable result of suffering.

A verse that has spoken to me all through this cancer/Leukemia experience is 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Suffering causes us to be more able to receive God’s grace, because we so desperately need it. It’s only in our extreme weakness, when we have no strength of our own, that His strength can be fully manifest and His grace fully received. In the half-dozen or so times that my pain was so great, I selfishly told God this would be a good time to bring me home to heaven. Let’s just escape this pain. But as a friend reminded me, God is such a lover of life, it is so very precious to Him. YOU are so very precious to Him. And so He pours out what you and I need: grace and strength sufficient for the moment. Suffering helps us be more receptive to God’s immense gifts of blessing and sustenance.

Additionally, suffering enables us in a good way to be more sensitive to the needs of others. We are better able to be compassionate toward others because of the compassion we have received from God. The ability to relate with others with increased compassion is another benefit that rises from suffering and adds meaning to your life. As Stanley concludes, “Suffering is never desirable, but your sovereign loving Lord can make it profitable.”

In what ways is suffering weighing you down and killing your joy? Take your eyes off the pain whenever you can and consider in what ways you might allow God to work a blessing in your life and in others.

One day at a time

Have you ever tried to live two days at a time? To carry out the tasks of today while trying to anticipate and respond to the problems that tomorrow may bring? We can of course make some preparations for tomorrow but to live in the future as if we could control its outcomes is precisely to be a thief of today’s experience. And whom will you pay to regain what is lost?

What I am learning (and relearning) thus far in this leukemia journey, now 13 months along, is that not I nor the doctors control anything. It is indeed one day at a time. This month-long cold is a good test of my immature immune system’s ability to fight. That and the ongoing GVHD fight continues one day at a time, over what seems like a long period of time.

But what else occurs one day at a time as you and I each fight our own battles? Grace and strength. In his immense suffering, Paul wrote:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) We receive these gifts if we ask and maintain faith and hope to receive them… One day at a time.

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Strength When You Are Weak

Yesterday was exhausting. Fatigue is a way of way of life these months and may continue for an undetermined amount of time. Though each week I am stronger there are days when the fatigue is too much. Have you ever been so tired that it brings you to tears? But I am reminded of a truth; it doesn’t allow me to leap tall buildings or stop a locomotive but it carries me through this, and it will carry you too if your trust is in Jesus:

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have given up so much control over the last 5 months. All I have left is reliance on the promises of God. And in this matter I have found them to be true and reliable. His mercies are new every morning.

Tired of striving? Rest in the Lord for He is good indeed.

Those Three Special Words

I remember Don Knight’s Valentine’s message to a mens’ breakfast years ago. He wanted to make sure that we understood how to be godly husbands. He explained, “There are three special words that every wife longs to hear from her husband. Three words that are so easy to remember and simple to say, but that are hard for most of us to share.” I imagine most of us in the audience were anticipating what Don was going to say next, thinking yes I should say, “I love you” more often. Pushing forward, Don concluded, those three special words every wife longs to hear from her husband are…

“I was wrong!” 🙂

Well, for the first time since I started treatment for this Leukemia, my body sent false signals. I have been so tired I was sure my blood counts had dropped to the point I needed more blood. But a trip to the ER verified the counts were still slowly increasing. The nurse asked if I’d over exerted myself. And being sure that shoveling a little snow the day before had not been too much, I said “No.” Of course, Marcia had advised me not to shovel even the little walkway. But we had visitors coming and it didn’t seem to be that much work to shovel a couple inches of snow, even in my condition. After all, I was feeling pretty good and have been very careful not to do any work around the house.

I was wrong about my limitations. (And finally, I admitted this to Marcia.) But I am fully convinced of one thing; one truth that has transcended the weakness that comes with Leukemia. In fact, it is precisely this weakness that allows me perspective to more fully grasp this truth that Jesus speaks to His children:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Do your days wear you down? Do your circumstances seem to overwhelm you? Are you daily reminded of your limitations? If so, be thankful. For you are now in a unique place where you can see beyond yourself and grasp that grace which is sufficient, that power which is available even in weakness.

Embrace it… You won’t be wrong.

When God Is Not Enough

Have you ever been disappointed in God? Angry with Him? So upset with your current and continuing situation that you tire of talking to Him? Or maybe you’ve sometimes felt separated from God, like a couple who lives together but doesn’t communicate closely. You are in good company. King David felt all this and more! Furthermore, David sinned grievously against God, before repenting. And yet God called him “a man after my own heart,” because ultimately David trusted Him.

God values communication. He is big enough to hear all our woes, our anger, our disappointment, even our lack of passion for Him. Like a patient parent who willingly tolerates the complaints of a child who yells, “Unfair!” God continues to gently and compassionately love us, unconditionally in and through every situation we face.

Some situations seem to be unconquerable: Chronic pain, cancer, a loveless marriage, a lost child, hopeless finances, betrayal, isolation from others, a lack of a best friend, frustrating work, or the inability to work at all. (All of these seem insufferable to us and yet most of us don’t know anything of the pain of persecution, torture, true hunger, inescapable abuse, or the presence of constant war that others face.)

When we do cry out to the God we ask Him to take away the pain, the suffering, and the discomfort. But we often remain comfortable with living in a way that separates us from the Holy God we seek to rescue us. Or we remain faithful but still discontent. The weight of the troubles seem greater than the weight of His grace.

The truth is, that when we are done making excuses, done with our pleas, and done with our constant striving…when we are ready to just ‘Be still’ before God, we find Him always waiting for us. He takes our hand in the midst of the trial and offers something we cannot earn or discover or manufacture on our own. At the time when it seems that God is not enough, He offers grace that is sufficient for our situation. It covers our weakness and it brings us strength to carry on, renewed hope, and unexplainable contentment, even joy.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Faith and Numbers

One of the things I have noticed about myself in this walk with Leukemia is how much I pay attention to my daily numbers. (I know, some of you who know how God wired me are saying, “Duh!”) Everyday, at 4:00 a.m., the nurses draw my blood and every morning the doctor stops by to check on me and review how my blood counts are going. These counts determine whether I need more transfusions or not. They indicate how the chemo is doing destroying my blood cells (good and bad), and how my body is doing at producing new (hopefully just good) blood cells. (They also tell me when I get to go home!) There is nothing wrong with being aware of the daily numbers or the statistics about the difficulty of this battle. But the tendency to use these to predict how well I will do, or when I will get better is sometimes strong…even if ultimately of little value. It is a classic case of a personal strength actually at times becoming a weakness. As Steve Rabedeaux keenly reminded me, medical statistics are pretty insignificant compared with the plan of God.

We know that God wants us to trust Him and we should know that His plan is immensely wiser than ours. But as nurse Marci said in a conversation about this, none of us have it all together all the time. We are, she says, a “hot mess.”

Trusting God is not that the same thing as being ignorant, or indulging ourselves and then crying out to God in our time of need. We are urged to “count the costs” before starting a project (Luke 14:28). The story of Joseph cautions us to make preparation and save during good times to prepare for the lean times (Genesis 41). But we are also taught that God is strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that our ‘wisdom’ is “foolishness” to God (1 Corinthians 3:19).

In Judges chapter 7, God tells Gideon to reduce his army from 32,000 fighting men to just 300 who are faithful and diligent. And their task was to fight against 120,000 enemy soldiers! Such ridiculous odds were sure to reveal that the battle’s victory would belong entirely to God alone, not men.

There is a distinct difference between knowing about faith and living it. Ultimately, I completely trust God with the outcome of this cancer. But one of the lessons I am continuing to learn is how much I need Jesus to show me the way to live out my faith moment by moment.

Numbers can be related to health, finances, weather forecasts, job security, house cleaning, friendships, and so much more. How do you balance faith and numbers in your life?

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7