The Sentence of Death

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I sat down in the hallway, exhausted. I had finally put all four children down for a nap after a very difficult morning. One child was screaming and crying in protest, throwing things at me from his bed. I released a deep sigh, trying to shut out the screaming, and opened my Bible. I sat on the floor outside the children’s rooms with my Bible in my lap. I had to make sure they did not get out of bed and this was the only way I would get a chance to study God’s Word. This was my practice for years when my children were young enough to take a nap.

I vividly remember the exhaustion I felt. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of four boys under the age of six, two with serious attachment disorders. There were so many days that I didn’t want to get out of bed and deal with the emotional turmoil. Sometimes, I fantasized about being so sick that I would need to go to a hospital just to get some rest. Every minute of every day felt like a fight.

That particular day, I was beginning a study on 2 Corinthians. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks as I read 2 Cor 1:8–10,

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

That was me. Burdened beyond my strength. In the depths of despair. Feeling like I had received the sentence of death. And God saw me. In the margin of my Bible I wrote, “My life with some of my kids feels this way sometimes.”

In suffering and exhaustion, the Lord reminded me that my hardship and pain was to make me rely on Him, not on myself. I did not have the strength to fight the emotional, physical, and spiritual battles going on inside my home every day. I did not have the wisdom to know how to “fix” my special needs children. I did not have the patience to lovingly deal with the constant emotional outrage of my preschooler. But, He did. I was struggling and trying to rely on my own strength. I needed every ounce of His resurrection power in my life. If He raised Jesus Christ from the dead, surely, He could help me make it through.

God was humbling me. He was allowing me to struggle because I had to understand that I can do nothing apart from Him. Yes, I knew that that is what Scripture said, and I would have said I believed it, but I was not truly living it. He had to show me just how weak I was because He wanted me to know that He was the only One who could deliver and enable me to persevere.

I began to think of how the Lord has delivered me over the year: my salvation at the age of 19, difficult ministry situations, health scares, a really rocky time in my marriage. As I recalled so many instances of His faithfulness, hope swelled in my heart. Why would I think that the Lord would bring me to this point and not enable me to endure this trial? He would deliver. I praised the Lord for His kindness in speaking to me and giving me such comfort through His Word. No matter how burdened and tired I felt, He had spoken life and hope to me, reminding me of His good purposes. I felt as though life had been poured into my heart.

Recently, I embarked on another study of 2 Corinthians.  I once again read the note I had penciled in the margin six years ago. The memories flooded back. We still struggle with some of the same issues. I have many days where I feel burdened beyond my strength. The emotional, physical, and spiritual demands of parenting a child with Attachment Disorder is difficult and exhausting. But that passage in 2 Corinthians still resonates with me. I am reminded to rest in the One who raises the dead and to set my hope on the One who “will deliver us again.” He has never failed. He will never forsake. He holds me fast.

Beloved, you may be burdened beyond your strength. You may be in the depths of despair. The same promises are true for you.

Jesus beckons.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

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