When Grace Doesn’t Feel Sufficient

“I’m sorry to ask. It’s just that I’m desperate.”

Tuesday night I slept from 11pm to 1am.  The remainder was spent running between a nursing baby and trying to calm William’s restless spirit and body. Sitting in the darkness with a beloved child that is struggling depletes a mother physically, mentally and spiritually.  I was nearly in tears by dawn, when my husband left for another hard day at work. Unfortunately, William doesn’t have school on Wednesdays. I had all three kids under my wing with no ability to shake my tail feather. In those moments the most basic tasks are impossible. Milk is in the pantry, shirts are on backward, Pull-ups are launched over banisters and juice misses the sippy cup and washes across the counter.

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The autopilot kicks in and we do the routine in a stupor, just from experience.

Bible verses feel insufficient and callous in these moments of delirium.

I did not feel equipped for all good works. I did not feel like His grace was sufficient for me…except that my weakness was VERY evident. I get angry that I don’t have enough to do things on my own. Why would God not give me what I asked for…so that I don’t need to rely on Him? (Wait…that may need some reconsidering!)

By noon I was running into walls and couldn’t keep a loving tone.  I tried to force Jonathan to consume a few more calories, diapered the baby, and watched William knock over the trash can. My cheeks here hot with desperate, frustrated anger. The visceral desire to make the source of discomfort stop welled up and I breathed deeply. These are the glimpses when I understand those who do terrible things when they aren’t reasonable– they aren’t in their right minds! The human capacity for strength and depravity cannot be underestimated. This is why the people we hail as good and as heroes often say they are the worst sinners and most vulnerable to evil. We all need help, me most of all.

This is when feelings and thoughts can not be trusted. What we have imprinted on our hearts and minds before the moments of crisis will control our autopilot. Many, many nights without sleep chipping away at my self control and patience taught me valuable lessons. First, I need 4 hours of sleep a night to function. If not, an hour nap is necessary. Along with figuring out my physical needs, I know that “Jesus, help me!” is a perfectly acceptable prayer.

One of the best lessons cancer has taught me is this: Grace doesn’t have to feel sufficient to be sufficient. I must fight my very real, raw and valid feelings that tell me God is not providing, Christ’s blood isn’t enough and that it is up to me. These are lies, and being on the remission side of cancer assures me of that. When I feel like I can’t go on one more day, I know that energy to care for myself and the kids will come supernaturally. I used to have faith that it would be true, but now I have seen it.

If you are CLINGING to hope right now and secretly doubting that you can push through, you aren’t alone– but you are CORRECT. It’s daily bread for a reason. When I feel overwhelmed that chemo will take a year but side effects can last a lifetime or I wonder what adulthood with disability will look like for my sons, I am tempted to despair. I don’t have the strength for it! If I could handle it, I wouldn’t need God. His grace is sufficient.

The more we lean on Jesus and trust that He will provide, the more confidence we have after he shows up again and again. That’s the joy we get in struggling that we lack when things are good and frankly, we feel like that bit of coffee or chocolate is enough to help us over the bumps. The gospel should be the first thing I run toward, not what I cling to when I am overwhelmed by deployments, autism, Down’s, leukemia, brain tumors, laundry and baby-weight.

God cares about our needs.  I am clinging to hope, but I am also taking relief where it an be found. God is providing through others.

I desperately called one of his teachers who had seen him struggle at his very worst. It was the first sunny and warm day in months and even on her day off, she gladly scooped up William. Away from the stress of a newborn, cancer, and a depleted mother, he played with friends and laughed until exhaustion came. It allowed me 45 precious minutes to sleep on the couch while the baby napped and Jonathan played on the iPad in the next room. It blessed her to keep him, it blessed William and it certainly blessed me.

God provided for my children, just not through me.  It is humbling, but I realize that he does better with others than at home.  He has been with older kids who are gentle and patient in him, teachers who engage and praise him, and he is away from the stress of a new baby and cancer that never leaves this home. I receive pictures of my boy smiling, laughing and trying new things in situations I can’t offer. Multiple families are enjoying him and their children are positively exposed to disability and learning to love beyond appearance and ability. That’s sufficient grace.

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My little Joy loves music, but to draw out her biggest smiles one song will do. Perhaps the truth in the words are the reason, because it is what draws out my best as well.

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace
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His grace may not feel sufficient. It may not feel like God is providing all you need right now, but I know this– you can trust what you can’t see or feel.  Following him is easier when the path is familiar. Maybe one day you can do it in your sleep… or lack there of.
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3 thoughts on “When Grace Doesn’t Feel Sufficient

  1. Please do not be so hard on yourself…I am praying for Jonathan and William and Elizabeth….and especially for you and your husband. and this too shall pass

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