When God Strips Everything Away: Exchanging Our Emptiness for Abundant Grace

By Tina Reale

God's Brave Women - Tina's Story


At the end of another twelve-hour day, I headed out to my car for the forty-five minute drive home. I had not had a day off in over a month due to work emergencies, scheduling issues, and my inability to say the simple word “no.”


I slipped into the driver’s seat of my car and turned on the engine, only to see the gas light blink back at me. The literal emptiness of my gas tank left me all too aware of my own emptiness. The tears came, slowly at first, rolling down my cheeks. Then, the cries grew into silent, gasping wails—the physical expression of my barren, broken spirit.


The desperate state of my emotions that evening led to a year of serious pruning in my heart. After a long season of fifty to sixty-hour work weeks, I was left under a crushing sense of anxiety that required a necessary leave of my job. Soon after, my husband and I prayed over the decision to leave the sprawling suburbs of metro-Atlanta and headed to a simpler, slower paced life in the mountains of North Georgia.


It was the right decision for our family, but the move still delivered unexpected losses to my heart. It required me to step out of a mentoring role to a group of high school girls I loved dearly. The move also took us away from a church home and many close connections that were vital to my relationship-craving heart. And as I adjusted to being home more, I doubted myself as a wife and mother, believing I fell woefully short in both roles.


In mere months, God stripped everything away I once held so highly.


My worth in my work was gone. My identity as a servant in high school ministry was no longer relevant. Many of my most beloved relationships fell away. No matter where I looked, I lost my sense of control. No matter how tightly I tried to hold on, my well-laid plans continued to fall apart, and no matter how much I prayed, I still came up empty.


 

"No matter how tightly I tried to hold on, my well-laid plans continued to fall apart, and no matter how much I prayed, I still came up empty."

 

Empty. That single word defined so much of my experience that year—until the still, small voice of the Spirit broke through and filled my heart with his truth.


While reading 2 Kings 4 one morning, the Spirit reminded my burdened heart of how God works. Repeatedly in a single chapter of Scripture, God took what was empty and turned it into his abundance.


A widow with empty pockets and heavy debts went to the prophet Elisha for help. He commanded her to collect empty jars to fill with the little oil she had in her possession. By faith, the vessels that began void produced enough to pay her debt and provide for her family.


A Shummanite woman experienced the heartache of an empty womb. She often showed kindness to the prophet, but still longed for a son of her own to fill her heart and home. Barren, but willing to believe, she received the prophet’s promise and brought

forth a son the following year.


Later, that same child would lose his life. With her son’s body empty of breath, the mother had lost all hope. All until Elisha breathed new life into the young boy’s body and new faith into the Shummanite woman’s heart.


One reading of God’s Word shone with example after example of the God we serve. Our Lord loves nothing more than to take what appears empty to us and provide himself to fill in the gaps with an overflow of his plentiful grace.


 

"Our Lord loves nothing more than to take what appears empty to us and provide himself to fill in the gaps with an overflow of his plentiful grace."

 

This is the way of our Lord. And this is the way of the cross—that Christ was willing to empty himself so we could receive abundant life by grace through faith.


Unfulfilled from all the things I left behind, the Spirit now filled me with one convicting question: If I was left with nothing else, would Christ still be enough? Was I willing to let go of all I held so I could be filled with more of him? His love overwhelmed me at that moment.


 

"Unfulfilled from all the things I left behind, the Spirit now filled me with one convicting question: If I was left with nothing else, would Christ still be enough? Was I willing to let go of all I held so I could be filled with more of him?"

 

While there was still much pruning to be done, the realization Christ was my source and satisfaction helped me bravely open my hands to his work in me and through me. I stopped holding on so tightly, and my surrendered trust turned into his strength for me. In exchange for my empty grasp, God offered me abundant grace. Abundant hope. Abundant life. Because he offered me himself.


 

"In exchange for my empty grasp, God offered me abundant grace. Abundant hope. Abundant life. Because he offered me himself."

 

Often times when we feel empty, we also feel alone. As you read this, know this: You are not alone. Not only are there fellow sisters in Christ who can commiserate with you, but God’s Word reveals so many examples of those who have gone before you. His Word can remind you of who he is—the one who will never forsake you and will always sustain you.


Where do you feel empty right now? In your finances? In your hopes and dreams? Do you feel drained in your work and the daily expectations of life? What about in your circumstances? Or your relationships? I pray that however you find yourself running on empty today, you can remember to look to Jesus with eyes of faith.


He needs nothing from us except our bare need. And in him alone is our fullness found. When we come to him with empty hands—free of expectations, pride, and demands—we open ourselves to receive more of his grace. Sometimes our need is its own form of blessing, as it brings us to our deepest need—Christ himself.


 

"Sometimes our need is its own form of blessing, as it brings us to our deepest need—Christ himself."

 

Ask the Lord to come fill your empty places today. He is and always will be more than enough.


 

Don't miss this week's BRAVE WOMEN SERIES GIVEAWAY! Only two left for the year!


We want to celebrate the 3 YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the BRAVE WOMEN SERIES by blessing TWO LUCKY WINNERS with incredible gifts!

Every month until the end of the year, we will be featuring key women who have written for the series and shared their courageous God stories with us. We just love what He is up to with His Girls, and that includes you, our BRAVE READERS!


Enter this month's giveaway for a chance to win one of TWO incredible prizes by clicking HERE: https://kingsumo.com/g/d5jb4h/november-brave-women-series-giveaway


Winner 1: $225 Gift Card of Your Choice!


Winner 2: Brave Women Bundle (valued at over $200!) including:

  • Mythical Me by Richella Parham

  • From Lost to Found by Nicole Zasowski

  • Bath & Body Works Twisted Peppermint candle

  • Rest in Jesus by Erica M. Baldwin

  • $15 Starbucks giftcard

  • Jesus Everlasting by Wendy Pope

  • 2022 The Happy Planner 12 month planner

  • Leather Wrap Bracelet from AD Beads

  • Untouchable by Brittany Rust

  • All God's Girls Are Brave tote from Becky Beresford's Brave Women Boutique

  • I Am Not by Simi John

  • 21 Days of Fasting and Praying by LaVonda McCullough

  • "Be Still & Know" tee from Love in Faith

  • Sweeter Than Honey by Patsy Burnette

*** Remember, the more options you choose to do in the giveaway, the more likely you are to win. And make sure to come back each day and share this giveaway with your BRAVE friends for additional entries!


This month's Brave Women Series Giveaway runs 11/10-11/19. Random winners will be selected via KingSumo on 11/20/21 and notified within 72 hours. US residents shipping only. This is not endorsed by anyone except the bunch of us. By entering you agree to receive encouragement emails from the featured Brave Women. Feel free to unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for entering, friend! You are valued, brave, and loved! ♡


 

About Tina


Tina Reale is, above all else, a follower and servant of Christ. As a devotional writer,

Tina seeks to share uplifting words that are rooted in God’s Word. She has a heart to help

women grow in their understanding of Scripture, inspiring them to stand firm in their

faith no matter the changes of culture or circumstance. Her first devotional book, Come

and See: Pursuing Christ’s Presence and the Power of the Gospel In Your Everyday Life, will release in early 2022.


Tina lives in the North Georgia Mountains with her husband and two children. Connect

with Tina on her website at tinareale.com and on Instagram @tinareale.