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It 's Okay to be Strong
God is strong, and he wants you strong.
- EPHESIANS 6:10 MSG
As we begin this journey of becoming strong, let’s first settle something in our hearts:
Strong is not wrong.
Too often Christian women are associated with weakness rather than strength. Sometimes religion has taught us to hide rather than to rise. It is true that we are called to be meek, but not weak. Meek is best defined as strength under control. Both Moses and Jesus were meek, but not weak. The meek know their strength comes from God. Esther was meek, but she was no weakling. The meek are also the humble because they understand that their strength comes from a higher power. The meek know how and when to fight, but they are not looking for one.
Strength is a two-edged sword that can be used as a weapon of destruction or a means of release that sets the captives free. It is not unusual that the first captive that requires release is ourselves.
This life requires strength. And as we live longer, life gets harder. Living godly in a godless culture will require much more strength than you or I can muster on our own. Thankfully we are not on our own. We are going to examine the following verses from Ephesians that outline why each of us must embrace the challenge and become strong. After describing how we interact in relationships, Paul begins Ephesians 6:10–18 with “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (v. 10).
Relationships require strength. But whenever I try to love or even like someone in my own strength I am doomed to fail. We have a very limited human capacity for the type of strength we need each day. This is why we tap into the strength and power of our Lord. Another version simply says it this way, “God is strong, and he wants you strong” (MSG).
God knows we are not strong so He makes us strong. David tapped into this source of strength when he was a worshipping shepherd. Our God is almighty to make us mighty. Our Father is all-powerful to give His daughters power. God has a plan for your life and the devil has a scheme. His scheme is to knock you out of God’s plan. I must warn you the devil will not fight fairly. The moment you became a daughter of God, you were marked by God’s Holy Spirit and noted by the enemy. Before your rebirth you were his slave, and now you are a target. But once we are acquainted with our source of true strength, it’s time to armor up. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).
I Am Strong
BECAUSE GOD IS MY SOURCE OF STRENGTH.
Confident in Christ
The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
- ISAIAH 32:16–17
When you think of an image of a confident woman, what do you imagine? In magazines, in shops, and almost every time we look at a screen, we see the world’s idea of a confident woman—turning heads with her control-assured smile and impeccable style. It’s no coincidence that this confidence is often for sale, in the form of a beauty or lifestyle product that will take us from a less desirable “before” to a fabulous “after.” But in the long run, looking for affirmation from success or attractiveness is an empty pursuit. How many likes do we need on a photo or how many comments from strangers will it take for us to finally say, “It is enough . . . I am whole”? I promise you a million a day would never be enough to fill us.
If we trust in popularity or beauty, we’ll constantly look to others to affirm our value and desirability. Our self-worth will be repeatedly jeopardized and threatened by other women, and our confidence will be fleeting. But there is another way. We have a Prince who is always willing to make beautiful the women who come to Him.
The confidence He gives us reaches deeper than we even know how to let anyone touch. It’s more than just the window dressing or filter or a new accessory. It is the deep, warming glow that comes from the knowledge that we are loved and known deeply. When a woman is loved like this . . . it is seen. Christ Jesus has blessed us with His favor. It is time to allow His love to be more than enough and turn from looking elsewhere for fulfillment.
It’s time to take a look at the “before and after” of our souls. It’s time to truly appreciate what Christ has done and build our confidence upon it. The love He provides never fades. He longs to tenderly nurture each of us so we can blossom in His love.
I Am Strong
BECAUSE JESUS HAS GIVEN ME A TRUE SOURCE OF CONFIDENCE.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
- 1 CORINTHIANS 10:13
Though I may never see your face or have the honor of knowing your name, I know we are not that different and in the course of life we will face many of the same challenges. Corinthians promises us that any problem we will face is not uniquely ours. We are not alone in our trials or victories. But Satan, the enemy of our souls, loves to isolate and accuse each of us as though we were. He whispers lies, “You are the only one who struggles with this. No one else is as bad as you!” I know you’ve heard some form of this because I, too, have heard this lie.
God does not play favorites when it comes to His promises and to His Word. He receives everyone who comes before Him with a humble and obedient heart. This is not true for the arrogant and self-righteous who imagine they have it all figured out. He hears us best when we come spent and tired of trying to do it on our own. God lifts the weary and broken and invites them: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
There are far too many precious women who feel alone and isolated. It is time we realized that just as we are united in our struggles, we can be united in our strength. Perhaps you have felt isolated and accused. These are lies. You are not alone. Your Lord is your redeemer rather than your accuser.
This is one of the many reasons why community is so important. When we connect with other people who have already gone through the struggle that we are presently in, we are encouraged to have faith. We step out in faith and dare to believe that just as God was faithful to them, He will be faithful to us. Allow me to assure you:
God is not angry with you.
He is not your accuser.
He is more than willing to help.
And you are not alone.
I Am Strong
BECAUSE I AM NOT ALONE. MY LORD IS MY REDEEMER, NOT MY ACCUSER.
Heard by God
God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
- PSALM 66:19
As many parents of young children will tell you, sometimes our precious, beautiful angels hit, call names, or throw fits to get their way (not unlike us from time to time). In the heat and intensity of a battle with a two-year-old, it would appear easier for all involved to just let him have his way. Let him win this battle in hopes you will later win the war. Well, you might—but only with greater difficulty and much more struggle than the initial confrontation presented. Rewarding bad behavior always comes back to bite you in the end. Ultimately, you are not doing the child a favor but a disservice. God, our heavenly Father, is the wisest of all parents. He knows when that thing we are throwing a tantrum about will jeopardize something of greater value . . . our character.
I confess there have been times when I’ve been guilty of throwing a tantrum to get my way. I whined and complained, “God, how come they have this and I don’t?” Other times it was interpersonal, “God, You know I’m right and they’re wrong! Tell them or show them!” This was especially convenient in disagreements with my husband or other Christians. I imagined God interrupting their devotions to tell them how right I was. Of course, these prayers were never answered. I’m so grateful that God was after my good instead of giving me what I wanted.
There are many reasons for unanswered prayer, but never assume that He is not answering because He isn’t listening. He is always actively pursuing our growth into greater good—even beyond our understanding in the moment. Whether we pray with the best of intent or with limited vision, He inclines His ear toward us, knowing exactly what we need. He has an eternal perspective in mind. As I have matured and dared to abandon myself and others into the hands of God, His righteousness prevails without my insights. We can always count on Him to listen and respond in ways that reveal His ultimate sovereignty in our lives.
I Am Strong
BECAUSE I AM IN THE HANDS OF THE ONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS.
Our True Desire
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
- PSALM 121:1–2
Everyone is looking for fulfillment. Some may turn to money, power, or worldly success to find it. For others it is in the pursuit of love, sex, or approval. Fulfillment may even be sought in positive things, like helping people or advocating for justice. But eventually, if we’re looking for fulfillment outside of God, we will end up disappointed. It is always frustrating to look for the right thing in the wrong place.
We need to lift our eyes heavenward, because our help comes from our Creator. It is only there that we will find our source and our fulfillment. Here’s the sad truth: When we insist on chasing after other things, God lets us have our way. Just as He did not restrain Adam and Eve from reaching out and taking the fruit in the Garden, He does not restrain us from grasping at something to get our way. He wants to be our true desire, but He lets us have what we want, even if it is harmful to us. Paul wrote about humankind, “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).
When we stomp our feet and say, “No! I want what I want!” God steps back and He lets us have what our foolish will demands. It is only later that we discover it falls short of our hopes.
God doesn’t want us punished any more than He wants us held captive. Listen to His open invitation: “ ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land’ ” (Isaiah 1:18–19).
Let us return to Him with willing and obedient hearts and make Him our source of strength and help.
I Am Strong
BECAUSE THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH HAS MADE ME SO!
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