There are lots of things that are too heavy for me to lift. It’s not a big deal, though, because I have some strong men in my life. When my strength is not enough, I ask them and they do the lifting for me.
Recently, there have been times when I have been quite aware that my strength is not enough. Life has felt heavy. As I have been meditating on God’s strength, I have realized that His strength is available to me in a different way than the strength of my husband and my sons. God doesn’t do the lifting for me; He makes me strong. He puts His strength in me and empowers me.
God’s Word has so much to say about strength. Take a little tour with me…
God’s strength transcends and transforms our circumstances.
“Happy are those who 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; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7
This Valley of Baca has also been called the Valley of Weeping. It’s likely a real valley, a dry area that had to be crossed by pilgrims as they went to Jerusalem to worship. So the imagery is clear: when our strength is “in God,” we can get through times of tears and also times of dryness. And not only can we get through, the strength of God inside of us changes the terrain. He provides what we need to keep us going, like oases in the dessert. Strength builds upon strength and God is seen and worshipped.
It is up to us to choose God’s strength, to “put it on.”
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11
If God lives in us because we have decided to follow Jesus, His strength is ours. However, there is an act of our will that is required, a decision to let His strength work and to stop trying to muster up more of our own strength. Like the words from Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) His strength is more than enough. Jesus, take the wheel.
When we choose to lean on our own strength and don’t accept God’s strength, we miss out on healing.
“Therefore lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13
My hands definitely get droopy, and my knees get weak. What I do at those times is so important! If I allow God’s strength to be like a splint, straightening and supporting me, I grow and heal. If I don’t, I am likely to end up in a downward spiral of weakness and loss of function.
Allowing God’s strength to work in me and through me requires focus and obedience.
Remember Samson, the strongest man ever? Remember how the more his focus shifted from his calling to his girlfriend, the more relaxed he became about following the vows he had made to God? We have an enemy that would love to see us forfeit God’s strength by focusing on other things and letting our guard down.
Deuteronomy 11:8 says, “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land…” Disobedience disconnects us from the strength of God.
Nehemiah told his people, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10). It is true that there is an energy that comes with joy. Joy brings strength, and strength increases joy. Again, this often comes down to a choice we make. Will we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with joy, even when we aren’t “feeling it”?
We need to renew our strength.
Just like physical strength wanes when we don’t exercise, God’s strength in us fizzles when we don’t seek it.
Remember these words from the prophet Isaiah, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)
Hoping in the Lord, waiting on Him, spending time with Him-that is how we tap back into His strength within us. We need our daily bread, that daily connection with the source of strength. Actually, our need is continual – “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” I Chronicles 16:11 ESV
God’s strength never fails.
I fail. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26. God’s strength does not fail.
I can be confident and trust in God’s strength. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trust, and I am helped.” Psalm 28:7
My trust in Him multiplies His strength in me. “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.’” Isaiah 30:15 Once again, that trust is a choice – the end of verse 15 says, “But you were unwilling,” and the following verses paint a picture of pandemonium as the people choose their own power over God’s strength.
A favorite Bible passage of mine speaks to God’s strength even in times of extreme hardship.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habbakuk 3:18-19
Be encouraged because of God’s strength. Seek it, choose it. Trust in Him. He is well able, and He will enable you to get through valleys of weeping and times of difficulty.
God, thanks that You are strong, and that You allow Your strength to strengthen me. I confess my weakness and my need for You. I choose to keep my focus on You, to obey You, and to regularly renew my connection with You. Please give me Your joy, even when there is difficulty and sadness. I trust Your strength to be all that I need. Let Your strength in me encourage others. In the name of Jesus, Amen.