1 Thessalonians 3:2-3- “…and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish… you in your faith, that no one be moved by… afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said, “Well, when it rains, it pours,” and you were referencing your own life’s circumstances when that well-known phrase rolled off your tongue. I have! There have been many occasions just in my 28 short years of life that I have dealt with one obstacle right after another. For the longest time, I couldn’t get it through my brain that… life just happens. God does use our situations to test our faith at times so we can grow, but he’s not up there entertaining Himself by our struggles.
Once that truth registered for me, I learned a difficult fact about myself- I was a weakling. (Proverbs 24:10- If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.) I was not happy to discover that hidden gem. I went through a few stages of a distorted reflection of grief once this became apparent. First, it was flat out denial. I started justifying my “right” to be overwhelmed and overly-emotional. Then I was angry. I started believing the lie that it wasn’t my fault for feeling/acting that way. It was because He was allowing too many things to hinder my life. Then the pity party started. If only people knew what I was facing, missing, dodging, enduring… No one else is dealing with this. You know. Eventually, acceptance knocked and I let it in. When I was no longer fighting against the truth of the matter, I was able to use my time and energy to determine the cause of my “small strength.”
What I discovered was fascinating. (Elementary, but to my weaker self, still fascinating.) Isaiah 40:31 was the first thing that spoke to me. (But they who wait for the Lord, will renew their strength.) That word “wait” is written with much more meaning than “to stay in place” or “to pause.” It’s a promise. If we, if I, could just learn to rest- to hope and rely- in the One Who holds my life in the palm of His hand, then “flesh” will only temporarily override “Spirit” and that feeling of defeat will quickly be vanquished by the confidence that He is strong in my weakness… and He lives in me!
Since then, I’ve noticed just how overwhelmed I become when I don’t consistently pray about situations. When my prayer time is lacking, so is my strength. If I spend more time stressing over the day-to-day responsibilities than I do looking for ways to make an eternal impact, I lose my joy. When I allow myself to get bogged down with everyone else’s expectations, and neglect God’s Word- which reveals His- it all becomes too much to handle.
See, that’s why we have to be established (firm; stable; growing and multiplying; in a favorable position; beyond doubt) in our faith. Just like Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians, we know difficult times will come, frustrations will show up, and sadness will sometimes linger. That’s just how life goes. But, when we’re deeply rooted in Christ, we won’t be moved by any of those things. I can testify to that. The more I’ve come to know Him, read about Him, and the more time I spend with Him, I’ve seen firsthand how the things of this life can’t destroy me. Last year was one of the toughest in my life, hands down. Still, because He has never been anything less than completely faithful, I knew that I would survive. And I did.
So, friends, rest assured- no matter what you’re facing, you will, too.
Jesus, thank You for being my Strength when life is just a little too hard. May I never forget that through You, I can do anything. You will not put on me more than I can bear, and You won’t ever make me face difficult times alone. Your grace will always be sufficient. Help me seek after You consistently so I can establish myself in this precious faith. Let me dwell in Your presence daily so the things of this world will be unable to move me. In Your name I pray this. Amen.