“You just need to be strong.”
In a Bible study with incarcerated women, I often heard this exhortation from one to another. It was a vague admonishment to resist emotion and put up a block wall to seal out the tragic, terrible things they had seen.
It didn’t work.
Each day’s physical strength drops like grains of sand through an hour glass. As the sun sets each evening, we feel ourselves growing tired. Each year speeds up as we slow down. Our physical strength slips away, no matter what we may do to try to hold on to it.
Emotional strength, too, comes in limited supply. We run out, no matter who exhorts us to find more resiliency in a forgotten corner of our heart somewhere.
A kindergartener approached me at church on Sunday to share that she had lost a classmate in a tragic accident. I knew about it before, but I listened as she talked. She shared about teachers and friends at school who seemed tired and had cried a lot during the week. Even a six year old could see that tragedy saps strength. She discerned the whole community’s need to find strength from somewhere outside of itself.
“You just need to be strong,” wasn’t going to work this time.
When we invest the expendable resource of our physical strength well in God’s work, it yields the wonderful returns of supernatural strength of heart, soul, and mind.
As the strength of our bodies ebbs, if we allow the energizing strength of God’s Holy Spirit to work through us to accomplish His purposes, we find that He has filled up the once dry wells of our emotional powerhouses. Though we may be old and weak, in Him we will be spiritually strong.
Isaiah wrote, “With joy you will draw from the wells of salvation.” As we pull up the full bucket, our physical arms may burn and shake with exhaustion, but our hearts overflow with the produce- Living Water.
When the Apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to rejoice, pray, and give thanks, he wasn’t asking them to make joy, prayer, or thanksgiving appear out of thin air. No. He was exhorting them to look to the Strength-Giver.
When he told them to rejoice, he was telling them to delight in God’s grace.
When he told them to pray, he exhorted them to exchange their own wishes for God’s perfect plans.
When he told them to give thanks, he was telling them to acknowledge the success of God’s grace.
God is the limitless energy supply.
When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, or mind, we must first ask Him, in His grace, to give us the strength to do so. When we love God with all our strength, we must know that it really isn’t our strength we’re using.
Real strength comes when a six year old, in God’s grace, can look full in the face of tragedy and still sing:
Jesus loves me, this is know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.From Jesus Loves Me, by Anna Warner