Tuesday, September 30, 2014

He Gives Strength

...The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31
When I blog, it is because something I have learned about God has really excited me, I am wrestling with a truth and trying to let it seep into my heart, or because a common theme seems to be swirling around me in this thing we call life. This morning it is the later. I chose to write on this passage today because I know people who are in need of some hope.  
I have several friends who are struggling with chronic illnesses. Some have been given answers and others are looking for answers so they know what is going on and how to manage symptoms. They are in pain and/or totally exhausted. They are reminded daily that their bodies aren't well. They have a host of unanswered questions that usually go unspoken. They live with frustration, longing for the energy to live life the way they want to live it. I can relate as I spent a year recovering from a severe break and then with a two year bout with CMV and anemia that seems to have forever altered my energy level. When I say these gals are exhausted, they don't just need a nap. They are bone tired...the kind of tired that can make you wonder if you have the energy to even breath.
I've know several young moms, who are sleep deprived and struggling with postpartum depression like I did which can leave a woman totally exhausted and wondering if she can make it through one more day and one more night and one more feeding. 
I have friends who, like me, are overcoming eating disorders, addictions, or recovering from past traumas. They've grown in huge ways and been set free, but occasionally something triggers them and they will have to work hard to renounce lies, shut down old defense mechanisms, and withstand strong temptations and compulsions in order to walk in the freedom that God has called them to. Addictions and eating disorders are often hard persistent battles fought on a daily basis. We long for total freedom but learned our recover is a day by day, moment by moment walk.  
I have friends who have a two year old grandson fighting a very grown up battle with liver cancer. God has been answering many of their prayers and given them opportunities to share Christ. Yet, their family is working hard to walk this precious little guy through this battle. With this type of battle, not only is the little guy exhausted, but so is his parents who are walking this scary valley with him.  

Our church family is grieving with parents who lost a teenage daughter last week. My heart aches for them and know they are going to be going through the grief process for a long time...and those of us who have experienced grief know that it is an exhausting work. At the same time my husbands company is grieving the loss of a lady who was killed in a horrible car accident.

Our grandsons who lost a puppy a couple of years ago in an accidental drowning, are now facing the fact that another little loving dog is struggling with seizures and have to meet with the vet today to see how to treat. Their little tender hearts have begun to shed tears as they are once again faced with the truth that life is fragile.

Then there is the whole issue of sin we struggle with...you know the struggle Paul talks about in Romans...the one where he says he does the things he doesn't want to do and doesn't do the things he wants to do. I know at the end of the day I often shake my head because I did something I thought I was so over doing, or I failed to do something God has called me to again because it is out of my comfort zone. Then there are the things I commit to in the morning and fail to do by evening. The words that wounded or the lack of words that didn't get spoken to encourage.

Life in this fallen world is painful, scary, and exhausting. As a result, we can be prone to despair and hopelessness unless we remember God. In our weakest moments we can remember He is an everlasting God, the Creator who has the power to speak the universe into place. We can remember that He never grows weary or faint.

We can remember His understanding is unsearchable. He understands how frustrating it is when illness robs us of energy and when pain exhausts us and depletes us of energy. He understands when fever hits and fear rises up within a parent's heart. He understands when grief is overwhelming and we can do nothing but shed heart wrenching tears. He understands our anxiousness when we wait for tests results and the questions floating around in our minds that we are either too afraid or too ashamed to ask. And as the Creator, He even understands how our temperaments color how we respond to life's struggles. As the Healer, He understands how our past trauma can still impact our ability to deal with life in the here and now.

When life is hard, the Enemy wants us to believe Jesus doesn't care or has deserted us. But the enemy is a deceiver. As believers, we can choose to refute his lies and embrace the truth of these verses. So, when we are emotionally, physically, or even spiritually exhausted it doesn't mean that we are abandoned. It means we are in a position to experience Him, His power, His strength, and His faithfulness.

His Word says that if we wait on Him He will renew our strength and we will mount up with wings like eagles. We will not grow faint and will not grow weary. Over the years my perspective of what it means to have wings has changed. It used to just mean doing huge things for God. Now I believe that sometimes the rising up is more about Him giving us strength to do what He has called us to do, even what we might consider the mundane tasks of this life. For a new mom, it might mean He gives her the strength to get up six times in one night to sooth a sick teething baby. There is no more important work to do. For in the faithful work of feeding and nurturing a baby a bonding process takes place that gives the baby the ability to love as an adult. For grieving parents, giving them the strength to cry a few more tears and get through one more day shows others that God is in the comforting business and creates in each of us a desire for our true home.  To the eating disordered or addicted, it may be just enough strength to call an accountability partner and walk in victory for the next hour. There is nothing more powerful that saying "NO!" to urges that are as strong as physical appetites gone awry. To a couple who is struggling, it may be just enough strength to reach past their anger and embrace just long enough to rekindle the spark of love that the enemy almost extinguished.  It might be just enough strength to silence a biting tongue and offer grace instead. To the chronically ill, it may be just enough strength and hope to keep the doctor appointment and to ask others to pray. In that strength comes the connection and community that can instill hope and allow us to love one another.

Could it be that our discouragement is in part from wrongly categorizing things to which God calls us into categories of significant and insignificant? God sees us and what we are experiencing from a whole perspective that we do not have. He sees the lives impacted by even the smallest step of faith. He sees the lives impacted by the testimonies of ones who weren't sure that they had it in them to make it one more day, one more hour, or maybe even one more moment. Oh that we would be a people who remind each other that God never promised us storm free lives...He promised to give us wings like eagles....wings that rise above the storm and strengthen us to accomplish what it is He has willed us to do.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!