Yesterday we were looking at how, as we the face life’s challenges, thanksgiving helps us to see ourselves as God sees us, and to believe also that God has confidence in us because He has put His life in Christ in us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. In addition we said that our gratitude expresses our openness to God to receive the Holy Spirits help and the provision to cope with the challenges before us.
We were considering people in the bible who faced epic challenges like leading a nation or an army, things beyond the experience of most of us. While it is true that we do have our major battles, and as you read this you may be in the midst of a major challenge in your life, often times the things confronting us are not huge political situations but the more everyday ones like family relationships, finances, things in our work or church life, or the need for provision, direction and guidance.
I think the Lord is wanting us to recognise that, even if the challenges that we face may not seem very big, He still wants to help us with them, even those that only we know about. He wants to help us with the things that come our way in our ordinary, everyday lives. Things like managing our time, keeping our attitudes good, being patient and kind etc. He wants to help us to walk with Him in triumph in all the situations that come in our day to day lives.
My mother used to have an expression ‘Give me strength!’ She would say it whenever anything trying came her way. It was more an expression of exasperation than a prayer, and it would often come out over relatively trivial things, sometimes mere irritations. It is nevertheless interesting that the thing most of us want, when we are feeling out of our depth in a situation, is an infusion of energy – ‘strength’- because unless we have the energy to turn them into action, even creative or practical ideas of what to do will not be enough to tackle the problem.
Yesterday we quoted Paul from Philippians 4:13 on how he had found the Lord’s strength to be there for him in various and differing situations. Looking at that passage as a direct translation from the Greek it reads ‘All things I can do in the one empowering me’. I love it! The thought that God is ‘empowering me’ is quite energising in itself. How often do we hear an advertisement that tells us with pride that something is ‘powered’ by some famous brand of engine or processor. It conveys to us a sense that this item is so much more than it looks. So are we, as we are ‘powered’ by God Himself as the Holy Spirit indwells and fills us.
Looking at another verse that we often encourage ourselves with, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells us that the Lord spoke to Him and said ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness’ the word for ‘strength’ is correctly translated ‘power’ in the NIV because the Greek word used is ‘dunamis’, from which we get our word dynamite. Paul continues (again I am using a literal translation from the Greek) ‘I will boast in the weakness in order that might overshadow over me the power’, and again the word ‘dunamis’ is used, with the implication of something wonderful and supernatural taking place.
When the Lord offers us His strength in the bible it is His ‘dunamis’. It is more than physical strength, it is His enabling energy. So as we continue our journey of giving thanks when we face challenges of various sorts, from minor irritations to significant crises, let us expect an infusion of His miraculous strength and power. The Lord wants to enable us, not just to rise to the challenge, but to enjoy partnering with Him as we walk through and overcome what is before us.