Last month, when we went through those 17 stressors all at once, I thought, “Oh good. There’s my break-down-and-cry session for the year. Let’s get back into our groove and start thriving again!”

But then. We were heading into a super full month ahead, so I braced myself for the busyness. The same day that I wrote that post, I found out I was pregnant. I’ll share more on that story later, why we were amazed and beyond thrilled, but suffice it to say the stressors all faded away in light of this new miracle. Yes, I was tired and nauseous, but it was worth it because it meant a little LIFE was growing inside my body.

But then, a week later, Heidi came down super sick with a high fever. I hoped it’d break quickly and she’d be better in the morning. She wasn’t. The next day she was sick. And the next. I had to leave for a retreat, and by then Jeff and Dutch were also coming down with it, so I reluctantly left them home and headed off to speak.

That night, I came down with it too. The whole retreat I felt so weak. I was also doing a fast with a family member to pray over a specific situation, so I had given up all caffeine for 40 days. Between no caffeine, being pregnant, being sick, and being away from home and not sleeping well, trying to have enough strength to speak to these dear women, I was at end of myself. I just kept reassuring myself that I’d be home soon, could rest and recover, and it’d all be better.

When I got home from the retreat, we were all four still sick. And then, that night, I miscarried.

In the middle of it, I felt so much peace. I knew God’s goodness, I was able to praise Him, trust Him, sing to Him. He spoke specific words of hope and encouragement to my soul, so although I cried most of the night, I was really ok.

But it isn’t usually the sudden blow of sadness that gets us, it’s the slow wearying effect of daily discouragement. That’s how I felt. The next day we were still sick. I kept up at my optimism, always believing the next day we’d be better. And then next day we were still sick. Heidi had hardly eaten anything in 10 days. Finally on Wednesday, I was feeling strong enough to get to Bible study, so I went.

Then, in the middle of study, I got a text that Heidi had a horrible allergic reaction to bubble bath, she was swelling up and breaking out in a rash over her whole body.

Seriously?!!

I went home, to find her face swollen, her lips sticking out, bulging, her tongue swollen, and a red puffy rash all over her body. While Jeff went for Benadryl, I sat up beside her bed, praying over her, hopeful the next day it’d be gone.

It wasn’t. It looked like chemical burns all over. It itched terribly, and no matter what we tried, we couldn’t seem to get it under control. The next day, it was slightly better but still there. And the next day, still there. This was day 12 of sickness, on top of the exhaustion, no caffeine, and miscarriage, and Jeff or I had commitments 7 nights in a row, and I was just. At. The. End.

By the time all the sickness and reactions ended, it was the day before I was supposed to speak at a conference, in a session for Pastor’s Wives. I so desperately wanted to give them a powerful, hope-filled message. I wanted to make the session worth their time. I wanted to encourage them.

But I had nothing. I had no special insights from the Scriptures. I had no clever 3-point sermon, no alliteration or outline or fill-in-the-blanks, I had NOTHING. And I still needed to pack for our week of travel and clean the house and do laundry and homeschool these kids and make a dozen arrangements, and all I could do was cry. I spent my last hour of “prep time” lying on my face before God, sobbing. No matter how hard I tried to pull myself together, I couldn’t stop crying.

And there, with my face on the floor and the tears and snot soaking the carpet, the words of Jesus came to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

There it was. Not only the message for my session and the message for my soul. I grabbed my Bible and began scouring 2 Corinthians, amazed to see how often Paul himself pours out his own list of laments, how often he was weak, hungry, weary, sleepless. How often he was at the end of himself. And yet over and over we see the reason for it:

That the power of God can be displayed.

I’m always praying for God’s power to be in display. But how often I tend to think that God’s power will be displayed through my power. I want God’s power to be displayed through my powerful preaching, or writing, or wisdom. I want God’s power to be displayed through health and strength, through exhilarating times of worship, through energizing church services, through successful endeavors.

That’s fine, but there’s no denying that more often than not, in the Scriptures, God’s power is displayed through our weakness. In fact, God’s power is made PERFECT (its very best display) through my weakness.

Of course I’m willing to be strong for the sake of Christ, but am I willing to be weak? Am I willing to be humbled? Am I willing to look small and unimpressive? Am I willing to pursue a path that purposefully puts my weakness on display?

The next day, in a packed room of pastor’s wives, I laid out my story of weakness. It wasn’t polished or pretty. Some might say it was pathetic, but then we opened up the Scriptures and let them preach. Oh and did they preach!!! They preached hope to us all—they told us that in our sorrow we are comforted so that we can comfort others (that’s ministry!). We saw that the treasure of the gospel is contained in weak and unimpressive jars of clay (that’s us!) to show that the power if His not ours. We saw that Paul was shipwrecked and beaten and hungry and exhausted, and that he was content with all that because it meant the power of God was put on display. And we saw that a messenger of Satan was even allowed to harass Paul, because when he was weak, then he was strong.

God met us in a powerful way, not because of my strength but because of His.

No one likes feeling weak, of course. But the gospel gives us something greater to live for than just our own feelings and fancies. We get to live for Christ. And the Scriptures promise us a reward that is far beyond anything we can possibly imagine, for those who choose the way of weakness for His sake.

Are you weak today, dear friend? Don’t lose hope. You are in the prime position to see God’s power perfected in your life. Your weakness is not a sign of God’s absence, it is an opportunity for His glory to be in display this very day.

Take courage, cling to Christ, for when you are weak, then you are strong.

{Thanks for reading.}

  • Kari, oh my goodness, you are in my prayers friend. Yes, His power shines in our weakness, and I pray he continues to strengthen your soul. Praying for protection, comfort, and sweet times with our Savior for you and yours.

  • Elisabeth

    “Your weakness is not a sign of God’s absence, it is an opportunity for His glory to be on display this very day.” Yes. I have descended into increasing levels of weakness over the past few years, the last 18 months or so being the heaviest yet (and that all started with a pregnancy and miscarriage). But. Opening to His glory and grace through my ever increasing humility! Thank you for faithfully sharing encouragement in the midst of your life’s trials and triumphs, Kari! <3

  • ❤️

  • Kara Fleck

    Kari, I’m so sorry. I’ve been struggling with my own weakness and overwhelm and the feeling that the sad, the difficult things just will not stop, like I cannot come up to gasp for air before the next wave hits. And this I read this post and my heart broke open for you, and yet here you are: right here, still offering encouragement and perspective, despite your own pain. Thank you. Thank you for writing this and thank you for being so open. I echo the words of others here who are praying for your comfort and your protection.

  • Stephanie Ryland

    What a beautiful word for today. Thank you for your transparency. May God continue to walk with you through this season and the next.
    Am I willing to be weak for the sake of Christ? Exactly what I needed to hear. I am on the brink of something new. I want so much for it to be amazingly impactful to others that God may be glorified, but it will require my weakness and limitations being on full display. You give me courage Kari Patterson. Here we go…

  • Rae Cousineau

    Kari, I am so sorry for your loss! I am in the middle of a miscarriage myself right now. God is good – all the time. I love your perspective and willingness to be used by God. It is so easy for me to be willing to be used in my strength. So much harder and humiliating to be used in my weakness… but at the same time so freeing and healing. Thanks for your openness. I pray that your heart stays safe and held by our wonderful and compassionate Lord!!

  • adri

    Kari, I’m so sorry. Praying for you as you rest in Christ, our hope and strength.

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