Strong

Joshua 1: 6-7 – “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Strength. It seems as if more than once, especially over the last couple of months, people have commented on my having spiritual strength.

But am I really that strong? Or am I just so weak that God’s strength shines through?

Because when I look at myself, I know I’m not strong. Sure, I can be. When people need me, then I will do everything I can to come through for them, to be strong for them. And, in most situations, it seems as if God allows me to be strong for them, to be that person on whom they can lean. And I am so thankful for that; I am so thankful that God has made me a person whom others can rely upon.

But when I’m alone…I know who I really am. When I finally just shut my door and sit on my bed, when I quit focusing on all the crazy activities of life, when I finally let myself be still before Him…then I realize how overwhelmed and weak I am.

I am not as strong as people think I am.

Those times when I am at my “strongest”? Those are undoubtedly the times when I was begging God for His strength and guidance, knowing that my abilities were entirely inadequate.

In 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10, Paul says, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I hope that when people see my “strength,” they can recognize that I am only the weak and broken pot, and that God is the Strong One who is holding me together and making me a serviceable vessel. Because the Strong One they see isn’t me — it’s all Him.

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Enough

Habakkuk 3: 17-18a

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor the fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls — Yet I will rejoice in the Lord , I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

The picture painted here is one of utter desolation. The trees and vines produce no food, crops aren’t growing, the livestock are gone…it’s a bleak, hopeless outlook, especially for people whose lives depend on agricultural output (which, really, all of us do). But there is no hope here, no joy in a dead farm.

Nothing is growing, nothing is going right. Despair, destruction, hopelessness, failure.

Life.

Tell me, where’s the joy in that?

I don’t believe there is any.

But Habakkuk doesn’t find joy in that life. He finds joy in God:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

God is enough. He is our joy. No matter how dismal my life is, I can still find joy in Him. We need nothing else; He is our joy.

Even when we are the lowest of low by the world’s standards, when we have absolutely nothing, when life is the most barren desert we could ever imaging passing through, just look at the position God puts us in. Look at verse 19:

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

I like how my footnotes explain this passage:

“The Lord God”: Here the divine name Yahweh is tied to the term Adonai, which means “Lord.” “my strength”: God will strengthen those who trust in Him [….] He will give those who live by faith the same confidence that a surefooted deer has  in climbing mountains [….] like a victorious army, the righteous with God’s strength will occupy the high hill.

God is the Strength I need to face this life.

He makes me able to maneuver the crags and crevices and predators and danger zones.

And He gives me the victory. Oh my goodness, He gives me the victory to stand tall with Him, no matter how Satan attacks.

God is my Everything.