Perhaps you have seen the Norman Rockwell picture of a young boy, standing in front of the mirror. He is wearing blue shorts and his faithful dog is sitting next to him. The boy’s shirt is off, and he is flexing his muscles. There is the picture of Rosie the riveter from WWII. She too is flexing her muscles. We see body builders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and videos of the world's strongest people lifting and carrying weights that are amazing. Maybe you have kids or grandkids, nieces or nephews who have come to you to show you their muscles. Perhaps you have flexed your muscles in front of the bathroom mirror. We like to think we are strong. We like to think we can fix anything. Many of us are quite sure we can do whatever needs to be done...all by ourselves. We work out of our own strength, whatever that might be. Men and women alike. Because to ask for help or admit we cannot be 100%, totally self-sufficient would mean we are weak. We are wimpy. And we do not want people thinking we cannot take care of ourselves and those around us.
As much as we do not want to admit we need help, God did not create us to be lone rangers. He did not create us and then leave. He did not create us to do everything by ourselves. God created us to be in community with others. He has given each of us gifts and talents to use not only to help others but to bring Him glory. And, He has promised to walk this journey with us. Life is unpredictable. Just when we think our lives are on an even keel, life intervenes. Someone gets sick, there is a change in employment, a pandemic engulfs the world and touches absolutely every single part of our lives. Maybe it feels like God has moved and didn't leave a forwarding address. We begin to question our faith, our families, our abilities. But this is precisely the time we should turn to Him. The psalmist writes ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46. This is a reminder yet again of who God is. He is always present, but He is also the place to go when things get tough. There is no badge of honor for trying to slog through the challenges we are facing right now...all by ourselves. God has surrounded us with people who have different gifts and talents. He has placed people in our lives that will help us work through or talk through problems...if we can swallow our pride and ask.
The prophet Isaiah writes, ”He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. "Isaiah 40:29. Why would we try to do everything in our own strength when we do not have to? Why would we try to carry the entire burden of our life if there was someone so much stronger who is waiting to carry it with us? Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:10 to be ”strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Truth be told, God is our ultimate source of strength. We can call upon Him at any time and He will give us strength to carry on.
Paul writes these words to the church in Corinth. “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:10. This sounds very counter cultural. No one wants to rejoice when they feel weak and helpless. However, this is when we develop strength and perseverance. These are the times we can either drive ourselves to distraction, or we can turn to the Lord and ask Him to help us carry the load. Trying to live our lives in only our own strength may work for a while. But ultimately, we will fail.
We read in 1 Chronicles16:11, ”Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” There is only one place to put our faith, our hopes and our dreams. And that is in the Lord. He is our true strength and our salvation. Jeremiah reminds us with these words. ”Ah, sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Not thing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17. I like this reminder...that nothing is too hard for God. That means no matter what is happening in our lives, in this world, in our families or our jobs, God is WAY bigger. And He is OUR God.
There are many more verses about strength in the Bible. But I will close with these words from the prophet Isaiah. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. This is an intimate picture of our God. He has promised to always help His Children...you and me. He has promised to protect us, guide us and lead us throughout our lives.
There is no shame in turning to Him. There is no sense of failure when we ask Him for help. In fact, He is waiting for us to come to Him. Just as we had parents or grandparents who were so strong when we were kids, God is stronger now than we are. But we are still kids...God's kids. And He loves us more than we will ever know. Today...right now...stop trying to fix everything in your own strength. Turn to Him. He is waiting.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W