I’ve been painfully aware of my weaknesses lately.
For much of this semester, I’ve felt like I was just surviving. Responsibilities have been stacked high every month, and, even with breaks, the weight’s worn me down. God has been good, giving strength for the tasks and time for the work. Even so, this has been a difficult season.
When I’m pressed, I recognize all the ways I don’t have it all together. I see selfishness rather than selflessness, arrogance rather than humility, lust rather than love, laziness rather than diligence, waste rather than productivity. Disillusionment shatters my self image and shows me how sinful I still am, how little I’ve actually advanced in holiness compared to how far I like to think I’ve come. And such realizations are discouraging.
At this point, I start to question the process. Will I ever learn this lesson? Will I ever grow beyond that struggle? Will I ever really be useful for the kingdom?
In the midst of such thoughts, I’m reminded of Joseph. In the midst of circumstances that could have easily been overwhelming, Joseph is noteworthy not for his own ingenuity or wisdom or strength but for his obedience and faith. When God revealed himself to Joseph in dreams, Joseph trusted the word of the Lord, proving his faith by doing what the Lord commanded (see Matthew 1-2). We don’t remember Joseph as a great carpenter or leader or speaker – in fact, we may not remember him much at all. When he appears, however, he’s always faithful, always obedient, always serving.
Paul’s words also come to mind in such seasons. After describing the humility and glory of Christ, the one who grew up under Joseph’s care, he writes,
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
We are called to action, to pursue holiness in the fear of the LORD (2 Corinthians 7:1). Yet we do not do so alone. God is at work in us. This is a beautiful truth. We work out as God works in, and we rest in the knowledge that he will complete his work (Philippians 1:6).
So though I may be overwhelmed by responsibilities, feeling ill-equipped for the work ahead, I’m encouraged by Joseph’s example. He didn’t have all the answers, nor was he described as incredibly talented or skilled. But he trusted and obeyed his God, and God used him. And when I feel discouraged by my slow progress in sanctification, I’m encouraged by Paul’s words. I may not be able to make myself holy, but I do not pursue that goal in my own strength. God is at work in us and through us, purifying us as we pursue his will and strengthening us in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). So be encouraged today. God will not leave you unfinished. God can work with your faith and your obedience. And may God get the glory from us this week in all we do.