Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I can’t do this again. I just can’t. Do you feel that way today? Life is hard. Struggles are real. The burdens can be overwhelming even to the strongest person. The harsh reality is that some things are unavoidable. Life does not present options when it comes to the tests, trials and troubles that come with each new day. When the hit comes, the employment ends, the debt takes over, the diagnosis comes or the relationship is broken – you have no other choice but to go through it. When you come to the end of your proverbial rope all that is left is to tie a knot and hang on. I understand. I truly do.
Many years ago, our family vacationed in Orlando, Florida. Visiting a water park, our youngest was thrilled to find out she met the height requirement to embark on the giant water slides. For years, I graciously relegated myself to accompany the younger children while my thrill-seeking husband would go with the older children to ride giant roller coasters and water slides. The truth is that I am not a fan of fear. I don’t like adrenaline rushes. I am not okay with being scared. I hid in the kiddie lands and pools of our trips. However, now I felt the pressure not to allow my fear to extend to her so I agreed to go with her. Ugh! Climbing the stairs slowly – she was bounding up them joyfully to keep up with the “big kids”. Arriving at the top, all I could think was “heck no” as I could see the entire park from the vantage point. It was a straight shot to the bottom. I was already backing up when I saw them pack my itty bitty in the tube and her say, “Come with me, mama!” How could I back out now? I didn’t. I want my children to be brave and courageous. I did not want to give her the spirit of fear. God doesn’t give us that spirit either. At the bottom, my little girl was jumping up and down ready to go again. Overcoming fear is a challenge every day. Some opportunities come with choices, others there is no choice.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I wish I could say that the “I can do” comes before the trial or trouble is over but it is my experience that most days I feel the weakness in certain areas of my life. When our son was in the midst of battling cancer, time and time again people would say, “I couldn’t do it.” Friend, when that thing you fear the most does happen – you have no choice but to do something. It may not be pretty or how you expected to respond but you will do something as long as you are breathing. The Lord offers us strength and power. His Spirit inside of us the essence of His Strength and Power. Looking at the verse right before this power verse that is readily shared, printing, and projected is the truth about the strength Paul speaks of – I know…
Proverbs 8:14 (ESV) I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is a forgotten truth found in Hosea in the Old Testament. It is true today. Faith dies, hope dies and people die because they claim to know God but simply don’t know Him at all. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh so that people could be brought back to life. The Word of God written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are pieces of the Bread of Life to be consumed on an ongoing basis just as regular food. It feeds our soul giving us the counsel, sound wisdom and insight that gives us strength. Scripture reading, meditation, memorization and recitation is a form of communion offered to us each day. It empowers us with the truth about every situation. It shows us the possibilities of faith. It adds weight to the anchor called hope. Proverbs 24:5 tells us that “a wise man is full of strength and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” We need God’s Word to feed our spirit and overcome our flesh every day. Failure to thrive in a human being is a condition of malnourishment. It cannot be overcome in a day but is resolved with a solid nutrition plan over the course of time. Is your spirit man starving today? Have you been feeding him or her on a regular and ongoing basis? Proverbs 24:10 states candidly “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is too small.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I can’t. I hate to admit this when it is true. I loathe my weaknesses. I don’t expect to fail so when I do it is the ultimate letdown. Who does? Our person comes prepackaged with this little (or not-so-little thing) called pride. It is the flesh. It rivals the Spirit inside of us because it must die to give up control. Pride fights to the death to be in control. Humility is not fashionable and deemed weakness in the world. What is that thing you have pleaded with the Lord about? What is the very thing that keeps coming back to fight your feelings and flesh time and time again? Why? Why does it keep happening? Why God? It is okay to ask God why as long as we do so with the understanding that His Ways are higher than our own and His Thoughts, so it is with full knowledge that it is probably still going to allude our intellect. I will never let God do until I can’t. There I said it… the truth that must come to light but is never going to feel good at first.
Faith is not about what I can do but what I allow Christ to do in and through me. It is in my weakness that His Strength and Power can work miracles in my life. When I finally quit trying to control the outcome, do everything for Him, or be something that I am not. It is that moment when I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore” that He can finally rush in and fill the voided bravado and façade of control to be my strength and my power. He promises to be my strength and shield so while He is fighting my battles, righting my way, healing my body, working every detail for my good – His Hand still keeps me safe. He is covering me. It hurts. I am weak. The Lord offers to be my strength today. He is ready to release His Power in my life because when I am weak…I am strong.
Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How do I find my way from desperation to delight in the same breath? Reading Psalm 73 this morning, I hear the Lord whisper, “I know the desires of your heart. I haven’t forgotten. I am not done yet.” Oh, how I needed such encouragement. Peaks and valleys do not change the heart or mindset of God concerning His Children. His Intentions for us are always the same. The outcome of the test or trial including our ability to remain faithful in it or not does not change what God is doing in us and for us. It is all working together for our good and His Glory if we can just remember that God is a good father. His Love is constant. His Power is mighty. His Strength invincible. He is working it in us and through us. Our flesh will fail. Our heart might go with it. BUT God…He is my strength of heart and my portion forever. He will never fail because His Love for me never fails.
Psalm 84:5-7 (ESV) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
Isaiah 40:29 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Psalm105:4 (ESV) Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Just like that, fireworks for my spirit and soul. These promises are for those who think they can’t do it anymore. Those who are growing weary in well-doing. The ones considering climbing down from watchtower of waiting. The ones who might feel they are drowning in doubt or weighed down by discouragement. The valley is deep but God’s Love is deeper. The night seems dark but Light lives in you. You may feel faint but don’t worry His Strength is about to take over. Maybe the drought in your life is not meant to be doused with rain but saturated by the spring welling up within you. Sometimes it is our expectation that limits us until we put all of our expectation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who promised us a rich and satisfying life so maybe it is His Way, His Truth and His Life we needed all along. Perhaps it had to come to this for us to finally reach out and take hold of Him. Who knows? All I know is that when I feel like I can’t – Jesus not only promised that He can but that He will!
Psalm 68:35 (ESV) Awesome is God from his sanctuary the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!