Jesus, Our Deliverer from Powerlessness and Defeat

{This post first appeared last December for Gentle Leading Advent Devotional 2017}

“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

— 2 Corinthians 12:9

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

— 2 Peter 1:3

Light and life to all he brings. It’s easy to gloss over this quiet line in the third verse of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” But to a mommy who feels overwhelmed, where everything feels a bit like death and darkness, it brings freedom. Ok, death and darkness is a bit dramatic, but you’ve had those days, right?

 

Those days when everything you do gets immediately undone. A day when your exhausted mind can barely think straight to keep your little humans alive. Days when motherhood feels utterly impossible, but moms don’t get sick days and definitely not mental health days, so you gather all your scattered wits and slog through. Days and days when all you can feel is failure. Those dark days that toll the death of all our best laid plans for motherhood.

 

Then Christmas comes and everything is supposed to be all light and life, but you don’t feel that way. You feel overworked and overwhelmed and just over all of it with motherhood.

 

I get it, Mommy, I do. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a good plan. It wasn’t to be the perfect mom, but to be a good mom. Then my first baby came like a roaring fire, burning all my lists of good mom plans to ash. Instead of clinging to God, I strived. So God gave me two more boys, thirteen months apart, for a total of three baby boys in three years. It wasn’t just challenging; it was impossible. I wasn’t capable enough to keep them properly fed and clothed on my limited sleep and even more limited mental energy. We were all drowning on my watch.

 

God brought me past the end of my rope and into his powerful arms through a simple promise of his sufficient grace and my weakness made perfect in his strength. God didn’t want my imperfect human abilities. In my abundant weaknesses, God’s power would be made perfect. Alone I am insufficient for the job of motherhood, but God’s grace is all-sufficient for what he has called me to do.

Our world tells us that we are enough. Christian culture tells us that God won’t give us anything we can’t handle. I’ve found that God makes a habit of giving us more than we can handle, that we may recognize that he is enough, so we don’t have to be.

When we accept the good news—the truth of the gospel that Jesus came to earth to be enough, to meet God’s perfect standards with his perfect life and redeem our imperfections by the sacrifice of his blood—we become free to live firmly in the grace of God.

God's grace is two-fold: it both saves us from our failure before God and empowers us for life. Just as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sings” asserts that Jesus came to bring light and life, 2 Peter 1:3 promises that God’s power provides all we need for life and godliness. When every day feels like one of those days that is just too much for your abilities, God’s grace awaits to give you the power you need for life.

 

How do we access this power to survive the stress of our everyday lives? 2 Peter 1:3 explains that it comes from a knowledge of God, his glory, and his excellence. As our bodies care for our children and our minds race through all the ways we are imperfect and unable, God is calling us to life. This life comes not from our own circumstances, but from knowing that God is great, he is kind, he loves us perfectly, and that he wants to fill us with the power to live in his grace in our present circumstances.

 

God’s grace doesn’t stop there. It gives us everything we need for the challenges of mom life, plus all the grace we need to be godly in this midst of it. When you feel like you can’t make it through your day without anger, anxiety, impatience, or pride, God offers his grace to cover your past sins and to transform your hearts with his holiness.

 

God does not want you to suffocate in the grip of sin, but to live in the freedom that Jesus came to earth to purchase for you. Jesus humbled himself to live perfectly on earth so that we may be freed from the darkness in our own hearts. Jesus shed his blood to cover our failure upon failure, and to empower us to live free from the grip of sin by his power. Jesus offers this glorious sanctification as a light in the darkness of our own sin.

 

Light and life to all he brings, Dear Mommy. You’ll find everything you need for life and godliness by making knowing God a priority. When you feel completely incapable to do the mundane or momentous moments of motherhood, you have stumbled into the beginning of God’s grace. He exchanges your weakness for his strength, your imperfections for his perfect life, your not-enough for his complete sufficiency. All you must do is stop focusing on your failure, and discover the faithfulness of God.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:

  1. What motherhood task makes you feel insufficient for this calling?

  2. Do you find yourself needing more of God’s grace for life or his grace for godliness?

  3. How does the coming of Christ change the way that you respond to feelings of powerlessness and defeat?

  4. What is one practical way you could refocus your heart on God’s greatness and goodness when you are overwhelmed by your circumstances?