Strength in Surrender
Good evening from Managua, Nicaragua!
What does it mean to be strong? From where does strength derive? This was a discussion I had with a group of friends this morning and questions I have considered many times in my life. If the questions were regarding physical strength, the answers would be relatively straightforward, but what about mental or emotional strength? They tend to be a little more mysterious. Certainly there are studies, both psychological and not, that offer answers to the question of what does it mean to be emotionally or mentally strong, and how does go about building emotional and mental strength. In fact, if I were to search the internet for answers, I am sure I would find enough reading material on the subject to last a lifetime.
Instead of embarking on that journey, I decided to look back at my own life and the truths I have learned through times of both strength and weakness. As I have reflected, I have realized that the most challenging points in life tend to be the most defining when it comes to emotional and mental strength. There could be various reasons for that, but my guess is that those are the times when our emotional and mental strength is most tested. Whether it be the death of a friend, financial turmoil, family issues, or many of the other situations that arise in this life, our “staying power” is clearly defined. Personally, I have found that these moments can be so overwhelming that it almost seems impossible to maintain my strength by my own power. What if this is because it was never the way it was meant to be?
One of the most egregious misquotes of the Bible is that, “God will never give you more than you can handle”. Did you know the Bible says no such thing? I often wonder how many people have been turned away from God because that line does not match up with their life experience. It definitely does not match up with mine – I have encountered many moments when life was more than I could handle. My guess is the same is true in your life. The truth is God all but promises life will be more than you can handle in your own strength, but He also offers a perfect solution. In the book that bears his name, Isaiah the prophet records these words from God – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV) You see, God says he will provide our strength. When God designed us, he did so with the intent of being in a relationship with us. We were made to be connected to God and to rely on Him when life gets overwhelming. The situations that appear to be more than we can bear are many times, in fact, more than we can bear. It is at this point that God says, “surrender this to me and I will provide you with the strength you need to keep going”. It is my experience that this typically has to be a conscious act on our part, but that he is ready and waiting when we come.
If life has seemed to reach the point where your own strength is not enough, maybe it is time to find strength in the very place you were designed to – your heavenly Father who loves you more than you will ever understand. I promise you will not regret it.
– James Belt