"'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 it's easy to compare our own motivations, muscles and minds with others who appear strong, 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 sees.
... I'd follow my dream to change careers.
... I'd go to college.
... I'd be the mother or 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 frustrate me. I could be brave when facing a huge project at work, but the thought of sharing my faith with my unbelieving father made me feel weak. I feel strong saying no to many obvious sins, but then weak when I don't say no to over-eating in the privacy of my home.
And then I read stories like the one told of Hezekiah, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles 32. The story is worth reading in its entirety, but verses 7 and 8 speak truth that's 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."
It's so easy for me to forget there is 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 recording when I call for help.
For those who have chosen to follow Jesus, God's strength is available. That doesn't mean tomorrow I'll be able to run a marathon; 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." Confidence not in myself, 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 wants to give up. I've experienced hope when relationships seem dead. I've experienced peace when fear threatens to overtake me.
We serve a God of unlimited power, and yet it's so easy to forget and rely on our own imperfect strength. What if we accepted that God's life-changing power was really for us? What kind of difference would that make in our lives?
Let's make this personal. What kind of difference would it make if you truly believed God's power was 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 that I don't have to do life on my own. Help me to look to You first when I need help, and not myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Take time today to read about God's immeasurable strength in His Word. Pick up your copy of the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. The Proverbs 31 team has written 366 devotions to unpack Scripture with you.
Reflect and Respond:
Most of us don't face war, but we do face battles every day that seem insurmountable. What "battles" do you face?
If you believed with all your heart that God's power was available to you today, what would do differently? What would you attempt?
Isaiah 40:31, "... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)
Psalm18:2, "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)
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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105