I've heard the phrase "in God's strength" a lot recently - whether it is from my own lips or from someone I know. I like those words, but this morning I stopped and asked myself what does "doing something in God's strength" really look like? It's kind of like a buzz-word (though it's a phrase) for us as Christians and I think (as with many other things) we say it without stopping to think what it truly means.
In God's strength. Where is that found in the Bible? Well, here are a few instances though not all...
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
"Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!"
"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
"He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength."
not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will
strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous
"That according to the riches of
His glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his
Spirit in your inner being..."
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
" I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service"
1 Timothy 1:12
Wow! I can honestly say I didn't realize how many verses there
were in the Bible where God promises to be our strength (and there are
even more!). Reading through these, it's easy to see that God desires
to give us strength. The wonderful thing is that, though He asks much
of us in the way of obedience and doing His will and many other things,
He is faithful to give us the strength to accomplish these deeds.
Unfortunately, I know that I personally don't always actively
remember His strength. In fact, I think sometimes I take on the
attitude of saying, "Thanks Lord, but I've got this." How utterly
ridiculous is that? With this in mind, I came up with an example for
what this kind of attitude is like - hopefully it will make sense.
It would be a similar concept if you were going in to surgery for
a very rare procedure that only one doctor in the world knew how to
preform. In fact, this doctor had invented and perfected the technique
and he was willing to preform the surgery on you. But, instead of
accepting this surgeons help, you chose a nurse who had never done this
procedure, had never even heard of the doctor, and just got her license a
few weeks before. Not the wisest choice eh?
I think we chose the nurse over the doctor so often! In fact, to
bring the metaphor home, I think we become that nurse who decides to
take on a case that is clearly way beyond her field and
expertise. We think, yes, I can handle this, but when it comes down to
it, we realize we cant. The amazing thing is the nurse could
potentially preform the surgery if the doctor was there to help her. He
could instruct her movements, advise her, and teach her how to
accomplish the best out come if she would let him help.
This analogy is so simple and cannot completely explain the
complexities of how God gives us His strength, but for me, it helps to
point out many of my weaknesses. I fail all the time by thinking that my plan is better than His plan. I attempt to make things turn out the way I want.
When the going gets tough, I try and get tougher but eventually end up
crashing and burning - exhausted and disappointed that I messed up.
That's not how the Lord wants us to live. "My
flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and
my portion forever." That, to me, does not sound like God is sending
me on my way to make my own mistakes. Instead, He says He will be my
strength and portion forever! I want to live understanding that
and putting it into practice. How, you my ask? I think sometimes it is
as simple as recognizing in any situation that we aren't in control
(we're not even asked to be). Taking a step back, opening up our
tightly clinched fists, and handing it all over to Him. Being aware of
His leading and prayerfully considering life gives Him the necessary
room to instruct us.
I'm looking forward to (and praying about) enacting this in my own life on every occasion - not just the times where life gets rough.