Summary: Whatever situation God brings us into, He is more than able to enable us to succeed!
He Enables Us
June 9, 2001
When the angel, Gabriel, informed Mary that she was to become the mother of God’s special child, she asked a most logical question.
“How can this be?”
What the angel had told her, besides being startling, was physically impossible. Mary knew a virgin couldn’t possibly conceive a child- and that’s what she was. Gabriel replied to her, in so many words, “Don’t worry. God will enable you to do this.” And then he added, possibly with a twinkle in his eye, if such is possible for angels, “He will enable you to do something and be something you could never have thought possible.”
No woman in all of history had faced a situation like Mary’s. But that’s good. You see, we might say something similar about our lives. No one has been in your precise set of circumstances, facing exactly what you face as you live your life. As the old spiritual put it, “Nobody knows the trials I’ve seen…” Yet all of us know what it means to struggle with weaknesses, inadequacies, and unyielding obstacles. We look at certain situations and relationships and despair of ever seeing change.
Life has a way of exposing our weaknesses. We are weak vessels. In fact, we’re told that we’re jars of clay. Yet God leads us to difficult tasks so that we might turn to Him. It is the power of God that enables us.
To Mary’s question, “How can this be?” Gabriel offered a two-part answer. First, he reminded her that this would be the work of the Holy Spirit within her, not something of her own strength or doing. And second, he pointed her to another miracle near at hand- right in Mary’s own family.
1. Depend on the Empowering of the Holy Spirit.
When was the last time you found yourself painted into one of those “impossible corners” in your life? The tasks before you seemed crushing. The obstacles seemed insurmountable. The complexities seemed overwhelming. You can’t seem to make any forward progress, but know you can’t turn back. You don’t know what to do, or where to turn. (Maybe that’s the way we feel as a congregation, wanting to go forward, but unsure of how to do that.)
Scripture is wonderful in showing us that we are not alone in those feelings. Others have “been there” before us, in corners just as tight, and in circumstances every bit as demanding. The pages of the Bible show us how the Lord has been pleased to help and deliver time after time. Listen to what Paul candidly confessed to the Corinthians:
2 Cor. 1. 8-9
Doesn’t that sound too familiar? Haven’t you been there, too? Haven’t you tasted the “great pressure”? Haven’t you felt the inability to endure even one more day? Haven’t you felt despair creeping up- like fog rising from the street to envelope you- to wrap its fingers around your heart? That’s what the great apostle Paul experienced. But listen to what he learned through that process:
v. 9- “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
I believe the Living Bible captures Paul’s emotions a little better: “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We…saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us.”
When you are crushed and overwhelmed, when the problem seems so much bigger than you are and you feel powerless to make a difference, there is One who will enable you to go on. There is One who will put His shoulder under your load, if you will cast your cares upon Him.
Mary asked, “How will this be?” And Gabriel replied, pointing her outside of herself:
Luke 1. 34-37
It’s just the same for you and me. When we find ourselves overwhelmed by our circumstances, overwhelmed by responsibilities, and overburdened by problems beyond our ability to handle, we must cry out to God and lean on the enabling of the One who dwells within us.
It is one of the reasons Jesus came. He looked around and saw men and women staggering under the load of worries and cares and tasks, and His heart was moved within Him. He said this to all of us:
Paul faced the same situation once again a bit later in the book of 2 Corinthians. He confessed a physical “Thorn in the flesh” that grieved and tormented him. Three times he pleaded with the Lord for release from that affliction, and three times He was given this answer: “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak” (12.9).