This post about strength in God is an updated post that originally occurred in February, 2008. In light of current events in our country, I’m re-posting this in hope that the content might help you.
During such tumultuous times as we are in today in the United States – with the economy and the government shutdown – we are looking for strength and resolve. Life can be a challenge, but in times where our nation is in an upheaval, the stressors can be especially difficult to handle.
Maybe you don’t know how to apply the new Health Care law to your life. Perhaps you’ve made plans to visit a national park and now find that it’s closed for business. Maybe you’re a Baby Boomer and you’ve just entered into retirement. Could be that you’re making a major transition in your life.
Are you weak? Stressed? Battling depression? Do you need more energy to run this race of life that you’re in? Is your strength depleted? God can help. Fortunately, our Creator gives us many scriptures that relate to how we can have strength in God. A verse about strength that is very familiar to many people is below.
“He (God) gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…. But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength“ Isaiah 40:28-31
That’s one of this weeks scripture about strength. What a reassuring message! Life can make us weary and challenging… it can deplete us from the strength we need to get out of bed and do the things we are required to do. Yes, we can work out by lifting weights and taking our fitness walk. Those activities can provide us a level of fitness that enable our bodies to function physically, yet we also need additional inner strength to be able to function well. Since our mind, body and spirit are interconnected, how we feel spiritually or emotionally can effect or physical energy level. That’s where God can help.
A meaningful and personal relationship with God can give us inner energy and strength that can sustain us. Engaging in spiritual exercises like prayer, reading the Bible and abiding in God’s presence can help us tap into special power that only God can provide. When we are alone with God… when we “wait” on him, we are able to receive his strength. When we believe and trust what we read in scripture and in how God works, our hope is bolstered. This strong belief and hope, grounded in scripture, can give us strength. It’s the same strength that the Psalmist writes about in Psalm 138:3 when he says “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.”
There is another key biblical principle to consider regarding strength. In his writings, Paul reminds us how we can be strong when we are weak. This might seem like an oxymoron but because it’s biblical, it’s true. When we are dependent upon God, when we surrender to him, when we rely on him and ask Jesus to live his life through us, we’re actually living by his power and strength. You see, if we try to be strong in our own might, we don’t give God the opportunity to use his strength as he lives through us.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
So, I’ll ask the questions again – Are you weak? Is your strength depleted? Do you need more energy and power to run your race? Curl up on a couch or your recliner or drop to your knees and spend some one-on-one time with God. open up your Bible and read some of the scriptures about on the lists I’ve provided below. Get to know Him better and see if He doesn’t bring you more inner strength.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10
The first church I pastored was in Springfield, Ohio. Our home was situated near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—directly in the flight path of landing B-52 bombers that were coming home after circling the globe in our nation’s defense. Needless to say, these low-flying nuclear warehouses made a horrible racket as they flew overhead. They were so low that I hoped they avoided leaving tire tracks on our roof.
But the biggest problem with their booming approach was the trauma they caused in the hearts of our young children playing in the backyard. Happily engrossed in their own little world, the growing sound of trouble in the distance and the shadow of the massive planes as they skimmed the treetops traumatized our kids with fear. They instinctively knew what to do. They ran into the house to look for their mom or dad! My legs still have the embedded marks of their fingerprints from clinging to me till the danger passed.
Every time I read this wonderful verse in Proverbs, I think about our children and the B52s. Like a kid frightened in his backyard, we are often anxious and sometimes terrified by the circumstances that come our way. Maybe it’s a health scare—a suspicious biopsy or the worried look on the doctor’s face. Sometimes it’s the threat we feel from family and friends who challenge and mock the beliefs we hold dear. The loss of a job, the betrayal of a trusted friend, the anxiety of not being able to cope as a single parent—all of these have a way of making us feel overwhelmed. Fearful and lonely, we need a refuge, a place to run.
Proverbs 18:10 is the MapQuest for our souls. It tells us to run to the name of the Lord. As the text says, His name is a strong tower and those who run to it are safe. So what’s so safe about His name?
His name is the All-knowing and Almighty—nothing has escaped His notice, nor is anything beyond the scope of His power (Psalm 57:1-5).
His name is Good—regardless of what He permits to come into our lives, He will bring good from even the darkest situations (Romans 8:28).
His name is Father and Friend—the One who gave His Son to make you His child and to guarantee you a world to come where fear and anxiety are forever replaced by peace and joy (John 14:1-6).
So run to Him! There is no safe place without Him. And comfort in the time of stress is elusive apart from Him.
I guess this is why faith is so childlike. My children knew exactly where to turn when fear struck. They ran to the safety of their father’s love. May you and I be wise enough—and childlike enough—to do the same.
A Prayer We Need to Pray
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
We come at last to the prayer of Paul for the Thessalonians. The context is crucial because the prayer flows directly from the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and from the command to stand firm. First, we must remember that God is the source of all power. He alone can help us in the time of trouble. All the resources of heaven are at our disposal. Second, remember what God has already done for us.
He loved us—that’s in the past when he gave us his Son.
He encouraged us—that’s in the present through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
He gives us hope—that’s in the future when we will share in his glory.
He has solved every problem by taking care of our past, our present and our future.
In light of all that, pray for two things:
Pray for an encouraged heart.
Pray for a stable heart.
When we are encouraged, we will face the trials of life with hope. “Cheerfulness ought to be the atmosphere you breathe, and if you believe that God loves you, you cannot but be happy” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon). When your heart is stabilized, you won’t be swayed back and forth by circumstances and emotional mood swings. The latest headlines won’t throw you for a loop one way or the other. The stable heart is fixed on the Lord and is not swaying to and fro. The mark of the stable heart is consistency. You are the same because Christ is the same no matter what happens around you.
The mark of the stable heart is consistency.
And the result of the prayer is wonderful. You are able to do every good work and to say every good word the Lord wants you to do and to say. Your life and your lips act in perfect harmony with the Lord.
Here’s the passage in a nutshell:
Since God has chosen you for salvation, stand fast amid all the trials of life, knowing that God will encourage you and make you strong on the inside so that your life will be filled with good words and good deeds.
It’s all there and it all flows together—doctrine, command, prayer. Here’s another way of looking at it:
You are greatly loved—Stand fast!
You were chosen by God—Stand fast!
You were called to salvation—Stand fast!
You believed the gospel—Stand fast!
You will one day share in Christ’s glory—Stand fast!
You have received God’s comfort—Stand fast!
You have good hope by grace—Stand fast!
You were established in every word and deed—Stand fast!
In a recent sermon John Piper said, “The universe exists so that we may live in a way that demonstrates that Jesus is more precious than life.” That truth does not answer all our questions, but it does provide the framework for an answer that will prove true and strong in the worst moments of life. When tragedy strikes, when life caves in, when your plans are dashed on the jagged rocks of reality, when you find yourself in a place you never wanted to be, that’s when you discover what you really believe. As long as things are going good, you don’t really know what you believe. It’s all theoretical. You discover your theology at midnight. Anyone can sing “Shout to the Lord” when life is good, you’ve got money in the bank, your marriage is strong, your kids are doing well, you’re happy in your job, you love your church, and all is right with the world. If with Paul and Silas you can sing praise to God at midnight in jail, then what you’ve got is real.
You discover your theology at midnight.
Not only will you discover what you believe in times of trouble, that’s also when the world discovers what you believe.
Either God is enough or he isn’t.
Either Jesus is more precious than life or he isn’t.
But the truth comes out, always. And in those moments, when you rest your weary soul on the God of the universe, when you cry out to Jesus and discover that he really is there after all, then you discover he was there all along, everything he said turns out to be true, and the people who watch you know that you really believe what you say you believe. And having seen the difference that Jesus makes in the worst moments of life, that’s when they want what you have.
Lord, you are so good. Your mercies endure forever. To you, O Lord, be all the honor, glory and praise in our good times and in our bad times. When we see clearly and when the way forward is confusing, in our doubts and through our tears, in our happy moments and when life tumbles, be glorified in us.
We thank you that you know what you are doing, and you are doing it. We are glad about that because many times we are clueless. We rest our weary souls on you, the Rock of Our Salvation. Give us confidence to believe that the God who started a good work in us will bring it to completion, and even today is bringing it to completion. So help us to stand fast, never moved, trusting in you, now and forevermore, until the day comes when we see Jesus face to face. Amen.