Just about to go off to Aussie for a 2 week holiday. It'll be two weeks until I return. But I thought I’d type this while a big email sends… a thought I’ve been wanting to get down for a while.
I don’t think many Christians really understand what the Lord’s ‘strength’ is these days, I certainly find it difficult. We think God should give us what we want, give us a good life with no problems and no difficulties, with nothing ever going wrong. (Let’s leave aside the fact that those very problems build in us the character that makes us who we are.)
So many Christians seem to agree with the ‘prayer of Jabez’ doctrine. Pray this, ask for that, God will give you this and that, that so your life will be prosperous and happy. It’s a lovely idea, but is that really how God works? Is that how He wants us to live – without need or want or problem or pain, or persecution?
Real life just isn’t so rosy. What happens when it all seems to fall apart? It does, sometimes. What do you do when God doesn’t seem to have magically fixed all the problems? This happens. I don’t expect life to be problem free – in fact, I expect problems. I count myself blessed in the midst of my woes, because I am blessed – with countless things in spite of them.
I don’t think God takes away my problems or the pain they cause; it just doesn’t seem to work like that. But rather, I know He is with me even in those times – in the darkest valley. It doesn’t make the problem any less painful, it doesn’t make it go away, but it gives me the strength to bear it. It gives me strength to know that God loves me, and that one day I will live in a new body and my current problems will be over.
Somehow, the very fact of God Himself being with me under my problems is incredibly powerful. In fact, I think that’s the way God shows Himself to be the most powerful – that His strength is perfected in our weakness. What is the source of that strength? It is Himself, living in us to walk beside us. It is not that He makes us emotionally blocked from the sometimes painful reality of the world we live in, nor is that He always fixes our problems or gives us the answers we want or the things we’d like. Our strength is God Himself, and He is enough.
Yes, it’s nice for God to bless us with the things we need and ask for, and to be sure He sometimes does. But we are not made stronger by blessing; we instead tend to become complacent and spiritually lazy. It is in adversity that gives us the opportunity to grow stronger, and we find that strength in God-with-us. It is that strength that fills us with praise and worship for God when things are going well for us.
Even if nothing seemed to go right, and God seemed to never do anything for me, I would still be committed to Him because I know He loves me. I may be in the darkest tunnel – but the Light of God at the end of the tunnel draws me on, and instils in me the strength to carry on. It is not physical strength, but strength of spirit. It is the strength that says, I came into this world with nothing, and I will leave this world with nothing, but I will dwell in the house of God forever.