April 16, 2018
"‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said." 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 (NIV)
Strength is an appealing characteristic. Strong wills. Strong arms. Strong jaws. Strong emotions. We admire them all.
We love movies with strong heroes.
We watch sports with strong athletes.
We look up to strong leaders.
Yet with every exposure to someone strong, we can hold up our own motivations, muscles and minds for review and feel quite insignificant and weak in the comparison. We whisper things in our hearts that no one hears. Things like:
If only I were that strong ...
... I'd say no to the temptations that no one else sees.
... I'd follow my dream to change careers.
... I'd go to college.
... I'd be the friend/ mother/ employee I KNOW I could be.
Then reality washes over us like a splash of ice water, waking us from our daydream with an unpleasant start. Back to our weaknesses that seem destined to chain us to a resigned life. Bad habits, damaged relationships, unfulfilled dreams ... that's my life ... our despairing hearts sigh.
Oh, how I know those thoughts.
For most of my life, I've battled feeling weak in certain areas while strong in others. And my inconsistencies frustrated me. I could be brave when facing a huge project at work, but sharing my faith with my unbelieving father? That made me feel weak. I felt strong saying no to many obvious sins, but weak when I didn't say no to overeating in the privacy of my home.
And then I read stories like Hezekiah's, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles 32. The story is powerful in its entirety, but verses 7 and 8 speak truth worth repeating today: "‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said."
The people of Judah looked at the Assyrian army ... then looked at themselves ... and came up lacking in every way. But King Hezekiah reminded them of what they couldn't see: the power of God to "fight our battles."
It's so easy for me to forget there's a Source of strength available to me every moment of every day. It's free of charge. There is no "closed" sign in the window of heaven. And I don't get a pre-recorded message when I call for help.
For those who've chosen to follow Jesus, God's strength is available to us. That doesn't mean tomorrow I'll be able to run a marathon, because it's not that kind of strength. But as I ponder the type of strength God promises, a clue is found in the word "confidence" in verse 8. Confidence not in ourselves, but in God's ability to effectively deal with any challenge I'm currently facing.
As I've learned to turn to God for His strength, I've experienced the courage to press on in situations when my flesh wanted to give up. I've experienced hope when relationships seemed dead. I've experienced peace when fear threatened to overtake me.
We serve a God of unlimited power, and yet I tend to forget and rely on my own imperfect strength. What if instead of comparing what we can see, we trusted what we cannot see? Could we accept that God's life-changing power is really for us? What kind of difference would that make in our lives?
Let's make this personal. What if you truly believed God's power is available ... to you?
Heavenly Father, thank You for being my strength and power. So often I feel weak and inadequate. Thank You for reminding me I don't have to do life on my own. Help me look to You first when I need help, and not my own strength (or lack of it). In Jesus Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 71:5, "For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." (NIV)
Psalm 18:2, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)
As humans, we mess up ... a lot. We say we'll never do that "one thing" again, but we do. We go back to following our feelings rather than following God. We go back to our sin. But while we may feel far from God, He is always close, waiting for us to return to Him. Join us for the next First 5 study, Return to Refuge, starting May 7! Click here to learn more.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Most of us don't face war, but we do face battles every day that seem insurmountable. What kind of "battles" do you face?
If you believed with all your heart that God's power was available to you today, what would you do differently? What would you attempt? Share your thoughts in the comments!
© 2018 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.