Any of you out there feel as though you are struggling to keep your head above water? Do you feel at any moment the waves of despair, chaos, or suffering will crash over you for the last time, breaking you, tossing you into the depths of the ocean floor?
You are not alone. The world is hurting. There are unspeakable horrors happening all around us-across oceans, in our own land, even in our own homes. People are fighting for their very lives. People are dying.
What are we to do in times such as these? “Be strong and courageous!”
When Holy Spirit began to talk to me about trusting Father, living in faith beyond fear, standing strong and becoming courageous. I asked, “Why are you sharing these things with me right now?” His answer? “Because you’re going to need it.” In this moment I felt like a child. I wanted to put my hands over my ears and chant, “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” I even saw myself doing it-over and over again. But I had heard Him, whether I wanted to or not, and I knew He was right. I just didn’t (and still don’t) want to think about circumstances which may require courage.
Here’s the thing, though: TRIBULATION IS GUARANTEED!
In the world you have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world.”~ John 16:33b BLB
There will be times we will be under distress. We have at some point or WILL find ourselves in a narrow place, hemmed in feeling as though there are few options for escape or that there is absolutely no way out.
Just moments before Jesus spoke the above words, He laid out a series of horrifying circumstances in which the disciples would be placed. He told them these things so they “would not abandon” their faith. He wanted to warn them. He went on to tell them even more, but he knew they couldn’t take it. Can you imagine?! He’d just told them they were going to be expelled and murdered! Yet, there’s more!!!??? Geez! Yet, Jesus, says, “I’ve told you all this so that you may have peace in me.” John 16:33
PEACE? How on earth does He expect us to have peace when we know trouble is coming?
Earlier He had encouraged them with these words:
~Courageous: Undeterred by danger or pain, brave, bold, unflinching,
I’m not always strong and courageous. Often, I act a little bit more like the disciples did when they were out on the open water as a storm rolled in. Jesus slept while the waves crashed around them. The disciples were certain the boat was going down and they were going to drown. So, they went to wake up Jesus. I’m sure they shouted above the raging winds as they shook their teacher. “Jesus, Get up! What are you doing sleeping? We’re all fixin’a die here!” (‘m southern. Forgive the slang.)
Jesus’ response? “Why are you so afraid? Where’s your faith?”
They may have been thinking, “Why am I afraid!? Well, maybe ’cause I DON”T WANT TO DROWN! And as for my faith, it got washed overboard about ten minutes ago when the lightening struck the bow and that wave took half our supplies overboard.”
Jesus didn’t say anything beyond these questions. He just showed them how to ACT IN FAITH. He rebuked the storm. This got their attention. They “marveled” at what he had done. In other words, they didn’t take this lightly, but they pondered on not the storm, but on what Jesus had said and what He DID!
Now, what about Paul, who asked the Lord several times to remove a “thorn” from him? We don’t know what that thorn was, but the Word tells us God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (II Cor 12:9)
REALLY? That’s IT? So, what are you saying here, Father? Are you saying , ‘Buck up little soldier and get on with it.’?
But here is what I have learned:
- Grace isn’t just favor and kindness. Grace, according to the Greek, is God fully extending Himself toward us, leaning toward us consistently and constantly, reaching to us to bless us.
- And sufficient isn’t about being “just enough or adequate”. NO! It’s much more! It is to assist, satisfy, provide unfailing strength, enough against any danger, defends and wards off, enables one to bear evil in strength as it raises up a barrier.
- If we look at the Greek we see the words have this order “suffices you the grace of me”.
Jamie’s translation: (Imagine He is speaking just to you)
The Father: ‘Insert your name here, I will assist you and satisfy you. I will provide unfailing strength for you-enough to endure any danger. I will defend you and fight for you and with you. I will enclose you IN ME and enable you to bear any evil as you grow in the strength found only in me. I have provided ALL of me for you as I am with you always, constantly extending my hand towards you, longing to bless you. My power and strength grows and is made perfect through the process I began in you.’
I hope my response, when put to the test, would be much like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they proclaimed with certainty that their God would deliver them. And yet, if He did not, they would serve no other God but THE GOD. And like Esther, they were willing to die if it was the only way out. Esther and these young men had grown in strength. The Bible is full of such stories of men and women just like you and me who were bold and corageous because they knew how to ACT in the strength they had cultivated within themselves through relationship with the one true God.
So, my friend, strengthen yourself in the Lord! Just like David did when his own people, the guys he had been fighting with, side by side, turned against him and threatened to kill him. (I Samuel 30) David was a man who knew courage in the face of fear. How could he be so courageous? Because he knew how to strengthen himself in the Lord.
HOW DO I STRENGTHEN MYSELF IN THE LORD?
- Trust Him. Accept His plan. Hold onto His ways and regard His purpose. It is the first step.
- Mark 5:36 and John 14:10
- Live IN Him. It’s positional. He tells us He is with us always. So, be with HIM. Be FOR Him! He chose you, so choose Him. Stay with Him and just as He leans toward you, lean in towards Him. Set your face like a flint towards His face!
- I John 2:28; Mark 8:38; John 15:4
- BE STRONG
- We don’t all start out strong. We GROW in strength by disciplining ourselves as we practice our faith. We gain endurance over time and stretch ourselves to become more flexible. We run the race set before us with our eyes fixed upon the prize.
- I Cor 9:23-27
- Stay awake and be vigilant, keep a spiritual eye out. Be alert. Look and Listen! Guard your heart against offense, against sin, against temptation. And keep watching for HIM. What is He doing? What is HE saying?
- Matthew 26:41; Matthew 7:15; Proverbs 4:23; I Peter 1:14-16
- Talk to God! It’s really that simple. Talk to God and then listen when He talks to you! The Word, again and again, says, “WHEN YOU PRAY” , Not IF. Do it! It’s imperative. Start out in worship. Worship isn’t about a song-It’s about positioning yourself before Him. Submit yourself to Him and honor who HE IS. It is here we establish and cultivate the garden which produces fruit in our lives. It is here, in the secret place, we grow in the authority only HE gives.
- I Thessalonians 5:16-18; Jeremiah 29:12; Matthew 6:5-13; Ephesians 6:18
- Be strong, stand up, and make a stand. Establish yourself, stand prepared and ready. Hold the Line! Be steadfast. Stand upon the true foundation, the cornerstone. The Rock. Always be ready to proclaim for whom you are standing with respect and gentleness.
- Ephesians 6:10-19; Mark 13:13; I Peter 5:8-10; I Peter 3:14-17
- GET UP! Rise up, move, Do something!, Lift your head. Move out! Follow Him. The word arise in the Geek figuratively referred to rousing oneself from inactivity. Typically, when Jesus used the word “Rise or Get Up” he followed it with AND…There was always a command to DO SOMETHING. It is a Present Active Imperative-A command to do it NOW! Rise up and pick up your bed, rise up and follow me, rise up and go. The lame man of Acts 3 got up and went to the temple courts, walking and leaping and praising God. Saul got up and went to Damascus. After three days, he ‘got up’, was baptized and began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues.
- Matthew 17:7; Acts 3; Acts 9
Believe, Abide, Grow Strong, Watch, Pray, Stand, and Act
Knowing this: You are MORE than conquerors THROUGH HIM! He has overcome this world and as the great conquering warrior has already carried off the victory and vanquished the enemy. Rest in this knowledge, my friend. You will find me here as I continue to trust Him. I will rest IN Him. I choose Him, for He chose me first. I will discipline my body, mind, and spirit, taking every thought captive so I will continue to grow in strength within Him. I will guard my heart, be alert, talk to Him and listen to His voice, I will set myself firmly upon His foundation, and be ready to move when He says move.
Oh, I am not so foolish to believe that the enemy, situations, circumstances, and distractions will not war to jerk me out of peace and into fear. But I have resolved in my heart to follow HIM. I choose HIM.
What about you?
If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” ~ Joshua 24:15 Amplified ~