“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:4 NLT)

Ever felt helpless? Like you had no options and no strength?

I’ve felt that way on occasion. Most recently through fourteen years of caregiving, and then a mid-life change of location and career.

My husband and I moved from sunny Florida to the foothills of North Carolina to farm on an old 66-acre tobacco farm Tom inherited.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Did we know how to farm? No. We couldn’t tell a squash plant from a sunflower. Were we enthusiastic? Yes. When we first arrived on the farm we got up early, planned like pros and laughed like kids.

Did we fail? Yes.

I didn’t see that coming. (Don’t laugh.)

One day stands out as a turning point for me. My assignment was to shovel manure out of the chicken coop in the mid-August sweltering heat. After about two hours of that, I cried out to God. Lord, why am I doing this? I used to be somebody! I thought I was too important to Him to shovel manure.

Over those next few years, my weakness forced me to fall on to my bruised knees several times a day singing the song “I Need You.”

And I did.

And I do.

This wasn’t a song of praise. It was a cry of desperation.

As I look back, you know what I discovered? That was an extremely hard time — but it was a necessary good time. The Lord used hardship, isolation, and weakness to draw me closer to Him.

It produced endurance. Dependence. Humility.

John 15:5 says this,

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (NLT)

We cannot save ourselves. We cannot depend on ourselves.

In America, self-dependence and self-sufficiency are applauded. In God’s economy, it is useless.

The Lord — in His mercy took me through a time when there was nowhere to look but up.

I’m glad.

I also think it will happen over and over since I’m a slow learner.

What about you? Are you depending on yourself?

The Great Shepherd says to cast our cares on Him. Because He is good. Because He has provided eternity — and it is based on His economy, not ours.

Lord, teach us dependence on You. Our culture teaches we can count on ourselves, but help us not to be fooled by the world. Thank you that we experience trials so that we can learn our true source of strength and salvation. Amen.

Copyright © 2019 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.