Where your strength lies

I’ve been thinking about the idea of where we find our strength. My husband and I were discussing this the other day, when pre-briefing (is that a thing?) our imminent return to the country where we work and live. We may be there for three years or more before we leave or see family again. We actually just did this, and it was blessed, but hard sometimes. We were discussing how we feel about it all, and how we’re planning to go about doing it, and do it well. One thing we both agreed on was that our strength can’t come from anything but the Lord. We get tempted to say, “It’ll be ok, because we’ll try and save to come home next Christmas,” or, “We just have to make it a year, and maybe my mom will be able to come,” or, “We’ll plan now for a vacation next summer, so we have something to look forward to.” It seems innocent enough, but this is a dangerous temptation because it takes our hope and puts it in things other than the Lord.

augustineInfertility holds this same temptation. How easy it is for us to look to other things to give us confidence: statistics, doctors, procedures, other peoples’ experiences or opinions, palm readings, whatever. We have to keep ourselves in check. For me, I tell myself to finish this sentence: I feel strong right now because _______________. Or maybe, I’m not worried anymore because _____________. If my answer is found in anything else but Christ, I need a heart change. I need to pray and change my focus. I need to get offline. I need to talk it out with a godly friend. 

The scriptures speak of this a lot. Psalm 77, which is amazing and I’ll probably post it tomorrow in light of this, comes to mind first (v. 7-14):

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this: to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?

You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.

Notice how the Psalmist starts doubting and worrying about if God has forgotten him and His promises. But what does he tell himself? He will appeal to what he knows about God. He knows and has seen that God is mighty, holy, merciful, wonderful and great. We have to appeal to this as well. Guard your heart from saying things like, “To this I will appeal: to the odds I find on google,” or similar things. You will appeal to what you know about God, and rest in that.

Likewise, in Psalm 121 he wrote,

I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth.

His help is found in the LORD, and nothing else. Yours should be, too. I found this webpage with several other references to reflect on, all verses focusing on trusting in the Lord and not other things.

I’m currently reading Tim Keller’s amazing new book, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. In the first chapter he compares how different cultures and religions historically dealt/deal with suffering and trial. At one point, he discusses how biblical Christianity contrasts the beliefs that we must not grow attached to things (or we must not “get our hopes up“) because of fear that we may lose them. And this is what he says:

[…] the answer to this was not to love things less but to love God more than anything else. Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace. Grief was not to be eliminated but seasoned and buoyed up with love and hope.

Christianity’s radical view of facing suffering is that we can face all things because our peace and strength and hope are in Christ and nothing else. So if all other things are lost or fail us, we still have our peace and strength and hope.

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