Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz
Have you ever felt depleted or empty? Maybe you were hit with bad news that brought you to your knees? Or, maybe it’s been a slow drip that has depleted all your energy. Recently, I found myself lost in a circumstance. I felt so drained, unsure of what I could possibly offer others. For me, this was a struggle. I serve in different ministries. I love pouring into women and encouraging them to find their purpose. But, during this time, I didn’t know how, or even why, God would want to use me. I wrestled to believe that any gifting God has given me would shine through in this season, since all my strength was battling just to stay afloat.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes, ‘But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.’
To better understand the passage, we should jump back to chapter 11. Paul provides vivid descriptions of the persecutions he had encountered. From multiple lashings, beaten with rods, stoning, shipwrecked three times – he faced so many dangers, which never seemed to slow him down. In fact, Paul goes on to say he will keep on boasting of the goodness of God. And, he continued to spread the loving message of Jesus no matter what trials were thrown his way.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that “in this world, we will have troubles and sorrows, but take heart, because He has overcome the world.”Paul continuously ran into troubles, and he continued to serve the Lord. It’s safe to say that God used Paul in miraculous ways throughout all of his tough times, which is great encouragement for us!
As I have been walking through my storm, opportunities have come up to serve and on my toughest days, I still ask God if He’s sure that I’m the one He wants to use. But, as I’ve learned to say yes in the struggles, He fills me. He anoints me. His grace covers me. I feel a peace that only God could provide with directions that only He could deliver. I’ve come to recognize, that whether on my best days or my worst days, it’s only God who can give the power and strength to serve others. Because if I am to believe that it’s my own doing that provides the life-giving words or works, I would be robbing the glory from God. Only Jesus can fill us up. And, only Jesus can use that filling to overflow into others. It is seeing Him work in my weakest moments that this scripture has become so alive to me. It offers greater assurance that He can use us in any season, through any storm, as long as we have a heart to show up and serve. And, I’ll admit, just the act of showing up can be the hardest step, but it is so rewarding.
So, if you are questioning how God can use you to serve in a struggling season, trust that He can. Ask Him when and where to start. It is also OK to take time to heal and allow others to serve you if that is needed first. Then, listen to God’s prompting. There are so many ways to serve others. Listening and praying for a friend. Ordering takeout for a neighbor in need. Volunteering on Serve Saturdays. Once you begin to ask God to share His heart with you, get ready for the doors to open.
I want to leave you with a song that has ministered to me over the past few years when I’ve needed that refining and reminder of how God uses His willing vessels.
New Wine, by Hillsong Worship
“Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus bring new wine out of me.”
For full lyrics or to listen: