May 28, 2014

Inner Strength I: Strength Beyond Strength

Let’s clear up a misunderstood idea in the next two posts, shall we? Your inner strength as a Christian does not come from some type of personal fortitude (at least the spiritual kind). The ability for you to go past your absolute limit and through the intolerable is not borne of you at all. At some point you will no longer be able to go on. From that point forward it will be supernatural perseverance. The old adage is true: Where you stop, God begins. Yes, the fortitude comes from within you but it is an outworking of the Holy Spirit working within you.

You can verify this fairly easily. The more faith you have and the more the Spirit indwells you as opposed to you pushing Him out with your sin, the better chance you have of persevering through trauma and travail. The falter and fail is the absence of the Spirit and shows outwardly in form of hopelessness. I have never seen a Christian truly loose hope in this life. I’ve seen their hope weaken and flag but never falter completely. Their hope and faith are intrinsically tied together. So the inner strength of a Christian comes from without or beyond. the internal strength actually has an external source. It is God.

When the wait seems insurmountable or is insurmountable, the ability to see it through until the end and do so in a positive manner with joy comes from God. Don’t kid yourself, you are really not that strong. When you’ve hit your end and can go on no longer, as a Christian you are called to do just that. You need to persevere until the end. That perseverance is bolstered by God. Waiting in God and the strength to persevere are tied hand-in-hand.

Psalm 27:14 ~ “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Psalm 46:1 ~ “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Isaiah 40:29 ~ “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength”

Isaiah 40:31 ~ “…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.”

Ephesians 3:16 ~ “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being"

In this world we will spend an enormous amount of time immobile or stationary and it is usually in discomfort. I have learned that anything of worth or value will come with a price and the cost often requires a prolonged wait. If something of value is handed directly to you without effort or some form of discomfort you had better question why. The things of most supreme and enduring value we will have virtually no control over and we will need to wait on. Why must we wait? As I said in the beginning, they do not come from within or from us. They are gifts and they are bestowed in God's timing...and God's timing is not our timing.

Gifts from whom? A Father who loves us, that’s who. Jesus who did not stop in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the hands of Pilate or on the path to Golgotha. A God who did not leave the Hebrew slaves to suffer in obscurity under the whips of Pharaoh. A God who did not leave Abraham to die without first giving him an heir. He does not condemn believers to Hell without first giving them plenty of time and a choice to repent and seek forgiveness. He has been abundantly clear, he will not stop until His plans have been fulfilled. All that the Father has given Christ will not be cast out nor can they be taken away from Him.

John 6:37 ~ “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

John 10:29 ~ “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

They are gifts from the one who knows exactly what we are going through. They are from Jesus who fought to the death for our salvation. Jesus who overcame death for our salvation. This same Jesus who will not relent until our transformation back into His image is complete. A King who will not stop until He reigns in full in His Kingdom and all His enemies and adversaries are soundly trounced and under His heel. He will not stop until sin is eradicated. He will be patient so that none will perish.

Even after all of this we find it hard to wait on God so that in the wait our faith can be strengthened even further. So in reality, we aren’t really that strong, are we? It is not our natural inclination to be comfortable in spiritual hiatuses. Instead of growing in God’s strength and relishing in God’s presence, we end up going in the other direction. Why does our faith weaken? Why does our resolve diminish as time goes on when God is specifically having us wait to gain faith? Why does fear creep in? These things happen because we doubt.

We doubt because we have little faith. We struggle to have faith in the unseen because the very biblical definition of faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Why must we have faith? It is because God has made it so because He wants us to unquestionably trust Him. It is because we are at enmity against God that we don’t trust Him. Our natural condition is to move away from God, not towards Him. It is only because God drags us to Him that we will increase in faith.

John 6:44 ~ ""No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day."

The word "draws" here is actually ἑλκύσῃ / elkuse which literally means to drag someone. We saw in the time of the patriarchs that waiting and faith beyond faith was pivotal to our entire faith. It was against all hope that Abraham became the father of many nations, just as it had been promised to him by god Himself.

Romans 4:18 ~ “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Against all hope. Abraham had waited on God so long that his body nor his wife’s would be able to produce life through their own means…but God could.

The Greek here is fascinating in that it says, “…beside expectation on expectation….believed [anyway]". In other words, his faith was contrary or counter-intuitive to hope. More specifically it means that Abraham’s hope went beyond hope into something, well, supernaturally indescribable. Everything in him should’ve been telling him that he should have feared the worst, disbelieved God and doubted with ever fiber in his body…yet he didn’t. He went against everything in his very being and believed God would fulfill his promise. Folks, this is beyond rationale and reason and in the arena of a “God thing”. This is Spirit supported faith. It is faith beyond faith and strength beyond strength. It is what we too should expect in some of our bleakest circumstances …and it should give us assurance and joy even in some really lousy situations.

Sometimes the inner strength to overcome is actually the strength to understand. The strength to understand God.

[Continued In Part II]


Anonymous said...

My God I needed this, this morning!

Andy Pierson said...

Glad it was there for you Shannon.

Anonymous said...

Wow Great stuff Andy - Thanks it blessed me - Darrell

Andy Pierson said...

Hey Darrell, thanks brother and congratulations on you milestone of 1 million visits at your blog The Lord is the Lord of the harvest and you are definitely one of his great servants. Blessings!

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