I remember the summer many years ago that I felt constantly exhausted. When I realized I wasn't feeling better even when I rested, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with mononucleosis. The doctor couldn't predict how long it would take to heal but said I could only wait and rest.
Since I had a book deadline and scheduled speaking engagements, I prayed for a fast healing. I just couldn't imagine being inactive and only resting. I felt tense, knowing there was the possibility I wouldn't be able to finish writing the book and that I would have to cancel the speaking engagements. "I love it all too much. It's who I am. How will I feel about myself if I can't accomplish those things?"
Plus, I couldn't imagine the Lord not wanting me to keep the speaking engagements He had given me. Certainly, He wouldn't want me to not be dependable. Faithfulness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. That wouldn't make sense.
And what would people think of me if I wasn't reliable? Ever since childhood, I was the "dependable" child and student. That was my identity and it gave me a sense of approval and accomplishment.
In the midst of these confused and rambling thoughts, I realized I had little choice. I had no energy at all. I could hardly move without feeling completely exhausted. (Tweet that!) Even going from my bed to the bathroom required more energy than I had. My family needed attention. My writing had stopped. I had alerted the meeting planners that I might not be able to speak.
But I felt horrible about it all and as several weeks passed and even resting didn't bring healing, I knew it was going to be a long struggle. How was I going to cope emotionally and spiritually? Could I still trust that God was sovereign and knew what He was doing? Wonder if no one wanted my writing in the future because I couldn't finish this book on time? Wonder if no one wanted me to speak in the future because I had cancelled speaking commitments?
As I spent most of my time sleeping or reading, the tempting ideas haunted me: "You are insignificant. You're not doing anything of worth and value! Don't you feel horrible? No wonder God can't really love you."
I knew that if this had happened years earlier, I would have drowned in those tempting feelings of uselessness and insecurity. But over many years, God had been teaching me that my identity didn't have to be based in "doing."
That truth was being tested in a fresh and more challenging way
through the mono. When I recognized the temptation to reject my value "in Christ," I began to fight the lies. In God's sight, I wasn't a failure and undependable. I could trust that He was in charge of whether anyone wanted my writing in the future. And He would open the speaking opportunities He wanted for me.
I continued to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). I told myself over and over again the truth. My value isn't based in activity but in being a child of God. (Tweet that!)
My weeks in bed--and then a gradual strengthening over a course of nine months--taught me a lot. I learned again, as I must over and over, that I can count all my work, ministry, and accomplishments "a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" just as the apostle Paul did (Philippians 3:7-8).
If you're in a time of testing about your value and worth, be confident that accomplishments and activity don't define you. But being "in Christ" is never threatened. Just think of Paul's declaration.
(images from stuart miles www.freedigitalphotos.net)