"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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9–10
Let's be vulnerable, shall we?
At times, I can be a very prideful person.
This is magnified in my desire to have control over certain situations, or even at times, my emotions. For example, I hate crying in front of people, because it "shows weakness" and I'm not weak (what I tell myself). The situations I find myself wanting to control range from grades, social status, the list goes on and on.
The end result of this toxic mentality?
You become burnt out, hopeless, discouraged, ashamed, and tired.
Sound familiar? Too familiar?
El Shaddai is one of the names applied to Yahweh (Self-Existent One) in the Old Testament, and is translated, "God Almighty" or "All-Sufficient One". It appears mainly in the book of Genesis, but you can also find it in the book of Job (Job 13:3).
In Genesis 17:1-3, we see God appear to Abram (soon to be Abraham four verses later) and unfolds the nature of what we refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. It is here that the LORD introduces Himself as El Shaddai for the first time in the Old Testament, exclaiming His sufficient power for Abram to stand firm in faith:
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.'" - Genesis 17:1–2
The time in which God reveals this name to Abram is significant. This was before He was about to tell Abram that Sarah was going to have a son and that as impossible as it seemed, there is nothing that El Shaddai cannot do. A reminder that the God they serve is all-sufficient and all-powerful. Abram's response to this declaration was to fall on his face (v. 3). This is the outcome of his acknowledgment and reverence to God, and his humility to accept and adhere to what El Shaddai has to say. Abraham yielded to God Almighty and His covenant by becoming circumcised, and then in later verses, showed his obedience to God by offering up his only son, Isaac, as a living sacrifice. Both of these acts were demonstrated as a result of great faith and confidence in the LORD. Abraham knew his hope was not in the flesh or what he himself could do, but what his Almighty God can and will do. And as a result of giving everything to God, God made Abraham fruitful.
Not only is God made much of when we surrender to Him, but this is what we are made to do. We were never meant to handle all of our own problems. Our shoulders cannot handle that weight. We were never created to run to ourselves when something goes wrong or to dwell on our anxieties. We are to run with confidence towards our Heavenly Father who cares for us and gives us the strength needed to complete His will (Heb. 12:1).
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
- 1 Peter 5:6–7
I can't help but wonder how different my life would look if instead of having moments when I was so desperate for control, I yielded to my Almighty God. Or if in those moments of helplessness, I boldly accepted my weakness and cried out my Refuge instead of essentially saying "I don't need your help. I'm too good for that". Or what about those times when I looked for sufficiency in worldly things like grades or friends? How much discouragement I would have been spared if I had turned to my God who is the All-Sufficient One.
What patches of your life do you struggle the most with yielding control to God?
Are there secret areas of your life you feel God is just not powerful enough to handle through you, or for you?
Has seeking sufficiency in personal perfection left you spiraling down as it highlights your weaknesses all the more to condemn you?
Why don't we instead do what Paul does in 2 Corinthians and boast in our weaknesses? Rejoice in the fact that we aren't in control? Let make ourselves available for God to work through us. By this, we are declaring that our hope isn't in what we can do, but what our El Shaddai can do through us.