Nobody Is Strong Enough For This Life

O God, early in the morning I cry to You.

Help me to pray and gather my thoughts to You;

I cannot do it alone.

In me it is dark, but with You there is light.

I am lonely, but You do not desert me.

My courage fails me, but with You there is help.

I am restless, but with You there is peace.

In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience.

I do not understand Your ways, but You know the way for me.

Father in Heaven, praise and thanks be to You for the night. 

 -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I stumbled across this prayer recently as I worked through the reflection questions and meditations in Max Lucado’s “Anxious for Nothing” book.

Reading this felt like a receiving a cold drink for my thirsty soul.

Granted, I am not in prison as Dietrich Bonhoeffer was when he penned this peace. Pretty sure my struggles pale in comparison to his.

Yet even so, I am amazed at how much of the human experience and emotions remain similar across circumstances big and small.

Boy am I thankful for that.

Because a prayer like this reminds me that even the people I admire most — the authors I read, the speakers I listen to, the mentors I look up to — struggle against the weakness of the flesh.

There’s something so precious and encouraging in that realization!

It brings to mind two verses. One I heard in a sermon this week at my church. Jesus is praying on His own, and He asks the disciples to stay awake and pray. Instead, they fall asleep. When Jesus sees this, He says honestly (but not unkindly):

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And then there is His famous Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, Jesus tells us that  the poor in spirit and those who mourn are blessed.

I think I understand this principle a bit more each year.

It’s the weakness of our flesh, the poverty of our spirit, and the depth of our mourning that most often draws us close to God.

Joy can do that, too, of course. But there’s something about being at the end of yourself that teaches us to rely on God in a deeper, more desperate way than we do when things are going our way.

And you know what, I’m OK with those reminders — even when they manifest sometimes in depression or exhaustion or failure.

Because it reminds me that I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to be strong enough. 

I can trust Him to do and be all of the things that I cannot be through the power of the Holy Spirit working through me.

He doesn’t need me to be strong enough. He needs me to be humble enough to admit that I need Him and can’t live without Him even for a millisecond.

That — that I can do.


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