My Hope

I finally realized that it's God's strength, not ours, that really counts.

Kari Paulsen ministered to the church she loved for almost 60 years. While her husband, Jan, the former president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, traversed a more public path, Kari’s role was most often behind the scenes. With her trademark warmth, wisdom, and humor, she worked alongside her husband in Africa, Europe, and the United States. Kari’s determination to follow God’s leading led to a life of adventure she’d never have foreseen. This article is exerpted from Kari’s book Against All Odds, available at

A few years back, I saw in meetings at the world church headquarters with some other spouses of church administrators. My energy was low that day, and the smile on my face probably owed more to determination than anything else.

The main speaker for the morning session was an energetic, talented lady who spoke at length about making the most of one’s role as the spouse of a pastor. She described the many projects she coordinated and the initiatives she’d begun that complemented her husband’s ministry.

I came home that afternoon feeling terribly inadequate. No matter who we are, or what public persona we project, I suspect at times we all sometimes feel confronted by a sense of our own limitations. Through the years, I’ve usually done a reasonable job of keeping these feelings in perspective. Yet that day my contributions to the Lord’s cause felt rather pitiful.

Later that evening, I opened my Bible. At the time I was reading through some passages in Psalms, and I came to a few lines in Psalm 147 that stopped me in my tracks. I read:

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:10, 11, NIV).

Since that day, I’ve kept a copy of these words on a slip of paper in the back of my Bible. It reminds me that one of the hardest parts of being a Christian is grasping the fact that it’s God’s strength, not ours, that really counts.

In our humanness, we say to God, “Look what I can give You, Lord!” And He says, “It’s really not about your gifts; what matters is that you accept My gift of grace.”

How radically our perspective can be changed by this simple, yet hard-to-absorb fact. Suddenly, we don’t need to use our “spiritual output” as a measuring stick for self-worth. The God we serve takes pleasure, instead, when we recognize our own weakness and place our “hope in his unfailing love.”