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Be Strong

// From the Archives //

I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a crybaby.

Anyone who knows me well knows at some point they have heard me complain, find the negative in my situation, have a pity party a little bit. It can definitely bring the mood down. One skill of which I am not very proud…. I have tried to rack my brain to think about the last time I consistently found joy in my situations. Let’s just say that I can’t give an answer.

I pride myself on being “real” with people. If they ask me how I am doing, I will really tell them. I have realized that quite a bit lately I have been answering with negativity.

My kids are sick. Again. Work is hard. Again. Volunteer work at church is hard. Again. Over and over again.

My friend and I were talking the other night about how we call our moms when we need to get something off of our chests. Her mom lets her get it out, and mine tends to give tough love. I called my mom the other day, and I was letting it all out again. This time I was in tears because I did not understand why my sweet baby girls are constantly sick, especially my littlest. In and out of doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Copay after copay. Sleepless nights and missed work. It seems nonstop. And I was to my breaking point, so naturally I called the one person I knew pretty much had to hear me out.

Not only was I frustrated, confused, and saddened over the endless sickness in our family, but I was also broken-hearted over the life-threatening health issues that my daddy is facing. I have been watching my sweet, joyful daddy be broken over his condition. I kept asking my mom why? Why is it that God would allow us to continue to face adversity and pain and suffering? I already knew the answer, but I guess I just needed to get the question out of my faith-shaken head.

You know what she said?

No tough love this time. In the most peaceful, wise tone, she told me that these 9 weeks she is memorizing a scripture with the students in her math class. It just so happened to be the very verse that is starting the passage of scripture my church is walking through at the moment. She said, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might "(Ephesians 6:10). She pointed out that we CANNOT be strong in ourselves or in our own strength. We HAVE to be strong IN THE LORD. Spoken from a woman who knows the fear of potentially losing her husband every day. A woman who lost her mother at age 23 and many others since and who has suffered with Crohn’s disease for over 30 years.

Be strong? I can’t! I can’t be strong anymore! Exactly...

I know she is right. Why is it that I have literally felt like I have been crumbling for years? I can’t blame it on miscarriages, moves, job stress, or broken relationships. I know my “condition” of constant negativity and brokenness is because of one thing. I have been striving for years to get through, to fight the battle in my own knowledge, strength, and experience.

I have gotten nowhere.

 It is liberating to cast my burdens on Him. He not only cares, but HE FIGHTS FOR ME.

How do I even do this? How am I able to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might?” The answer is found in the rest of the chapter of Ephesians 6 on the armor of God.

My pastor made an excellent point about this passage yesterday that I can’t get out of my head: I cannot put on the armor of God without the presence of God.

The armor is the presence of God.

For so long, I have simply read that passage and quietly resolved to read the bible more, pray more, memorize more scripture, live holy…

Why have I never realized that the presence of God is the source of each of these things, each of these pieces of armor that protect me in this battle?

He is truth. He is righteousness. He is peace. He is salvation. He is faith. He is the gospel.

How can I therefore be strong in the Lord? I have to cling tightly to His presence and never let go.

I have to seek His presence. I have to read scripture and pray for the purpose of being with Him, not for what I get out of it. I have to “cease striving and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).

This almost sounds weak, like I am giving up. Well yeh, I guess so. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For where I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I cannot bear my own burdens anymore. I cannot fight through all the sickness and endless doctor appointments. I cannot watch my dad suffer. I cannot endure my daily frustrations about any work that I do. I cannot.

So I will cease striving. I will be still. I will know that God is the one with the strength. Not me. I will finally be free. Maybe then I will find inexplicable joy. Maybe then I will experience peace, because He alone is joy. He alone is peace. He alone is strong.

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