This is the Stuff

Yesterday was an exercise in frustration. From the moment I got up yesterday morning, it seemed that everything was conspiring to frustrate me. I teach two Bible studies on Wednesday, the girls have a host of activities and I still had some work to get done. Before I even got out the door yesterday morning, my phone had rung four times with different problems that needed to be solved, my printer wasn't working to print of my stuff for my study and I realized when I got to church that I had left half the stuff I needed to copy at home.

When I got in the car to head to church, I was so frustrated that I threw up my hands and yelled at God, "Arrghh! Do you have a plan for today? Because this isn't working for me."

You know what? Nothing terrible happened to me yesterday, and God showed up in the studies I taught in a big way. The things that kept frustrating me yesterday weren't crises; they were simply annoyances. But there were enough annoyances that I allowed them to frustrate me almost to the point of not being able to do the things that God had planned for yesterday.

Lucky for me, when I got to church, some friends realized I wasn't having the greatest morning. Not only did they help me get everything ready, but they took the time to pray with me and remind me that it's not the stuff that happens to us that matters -- it's how God uses it. They reminded me that 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

It's when I am weak, that God can use me because I have to rely solely on His strength, not my own. When the little moments of life frustrate us to the point of throwing up our hands and yelling at God, that's when God can use us -- if we let Him.

Frustrations can get to our kids, too. Sometimes my oldest will come home from school in a funk. She can't point to any one thing that is bothering her, but just a whole bunch of little stuff. When our kids get overwhelmed by the "stuff" in their lives, we need to show them how to let God use their weakness to make them strong.

Try this illustration with your kids. Give them something really light to lift, and something really heavy (make sure they can lift it, but make it be a struggle). Have your kids lift each item. As they struggle to lift the heavy thing, ask them if others would think they were strong if they watched them struggle to lift it. As they lift the lighter item, ask them the same question. When they are done, talk about how others can see God's strength more when we're weak. It's like lifting a feather or an empty bag. God's strength is so much more than ours, but if we are trying to do things in our own strength, then it's tough for God to "pick us up" and for others to see His strength.

When the little stuff of life overwhelms us, we need to remember that our strength comes from God, and He is made perfect in our weakness. Turn that "stuff" over to Him, and let Him use you in ways you never thought possible.