May 30, 2014

Inner Strength II: Strength Comes From The Struggle

[Continued From Part I]

The waiting Abraham and Sarah did was not accidental, it was intentional. It is absolutely clear from later verses why God had Abraham and Sarah wait through such a long painful period and we can learn volumes from that fact. Abraham (and Sarah) were forced to face that fact that their bodies were essentially dead and could not produce an offspring. Yet Abraham’s faith did not waver when it came to God’s promise. Instead, Abraham’s faith was strengthened.

Romans 4: 20-21 ~ “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

Abraham wasn’t in denial of the bleakness of his situation here and nor should we be when things are bad. We need to accept that things are indeed as bad as they seem sometimes. Conversely, there is nothing so bad in this universe, that God’s holiness and goodness cannot overcome it. We should not rest in our own abilities and strengths but rather His. We must remember that we are taking about Abraham here. The same guy that passed of his wife as his sister. Flawed and sinful to the core…but righteous because of his faith.

How did Abraham get past the fact that he and his wife’s bodies were dead without letting this fact bury him and stop him dead in his tracks? Simple, he didn’t focus on this fact. Too often we focus on the things we are trying to wait out and then become impatient. We focus too much on what we perceive as obstacles rather than the One that can remove the obstacles. We cannot focus on the “things”. We need to focus on the promises of God, otherwise we loose sight of what really matters. Our personal needs are secondary to the will of God. He promised covenant. He promised us something too...

I need to stop rehearsing in my head the way I think things will go because this just leads me to further feelings of powerlessness. This then swings all the way back the other way and makes me feel I need to gain control which only ever ends in disaster spiritually and sometimes worldly. I am not in charge and never will be. By projecting what I believe will happen I am projecting outcomes on God's plan. That is like playing my movie projector over top of God's and all I do is create a cacophony of noise and images. Abraham knew exactly what was going on…he just looked beyond this world for his answer and he found it…in God himself. Where else would he look? He looked to the only one that could affect a change to the impossible situation he was in. Let us be clear about this last fact also. The Bible never said this was easy for Abraham, it just said he responded in faith.

Somewhere in our lives we will be called to wait. Perhaps this might happen more than once as it has for me.  In our waiting we are given a perfect opportunity to strengthen our faith. We must use the time God is setting aside in these times to feed our spiritual muscle with the correct nourishment and sustenance. We need to take in the basic building blocks of our faith. We need to feed on the life-giving meat of God’s word. We need supplementation in the form of prayer, patience and perseverance. Like weightlifting, if we are first torn down and taxed slowly we will eventually adapt through progressive resistance and become stronger and more powerful for the Kingdom. Just as a weightlifter struggles to lift a weight to get stronger, so too a lifter of faith gains strength in his struggles. Sometimes it first requires our muscle/lives being damaged or torn down to allow for the repair to make it stronger. Every time we allow for God to repair what has been broken in our lives we allow for another chance for God to infuse His will in us.

In our wait we are given more time to perfect our faith. We must get rid of bad habits like sin and unbelief which will act as an anchor on our journey. It will be ballast that will not allow liftoff. Instead of carrying around dead weight of unbelief we should pick up good spiritual habits like devotional prayer, study and fellowship. We need to sit under sound theological teaching and sound doctrine. Finally, we must remember that where there is no spiritual battle, there will be little need of belief. Where there is no struggle, there is no strength nor a true need of it. It is in the struggle that we gain further strength through faith from God to persevere.

Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

Galatians 6:9 - "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

Jude 1:24 "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy"

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