Saturday, June 27, 2009
What Makes Us Strong
My pastor recently ministered on the subject of "The Goodness of God". He spoke about why God has such kindness towards us and why He continues to extend to us blessing after blessing. It was a wonderful message full of hope and expectation. It left me counting the many blessings God has given me. He then made a statement that left me thinking about my adversity as well, but in a different way, "Resistance is what makes us strong. You never encounter resistance when you are doing the wrong thing. It is only when we choose to do the right thing that we encounter resistance from the enemy". It was a new concept for me. I knew about resisting but I had never, for some reason, identified it as something that would make me strong. It usually left me feeling spiritually drained.
I then thought about my son. John was always disappointed as a teenager that he was not as tall as he wanted to be. He was also very thin (not necessarily a bad thing) and not all that strong. John was, and still is, very strong in his personal beliefs and in his faith but was not overly strong physically. When he graduated from high school, though, he got a job at a local fitness center. There he began lifting weights and following a regimen that he still follows today. As a result of that, John developed musculature and strength that he had not had before. I think the word we would use today is "buffed". John is 5'9" and has tremendous physical strength---all because he used resistance to develop his body.
I use the example of my son because it brings to mind the benefit of really resisting against another force. I have never seen a time when the body of Christ is suffering as it is today. We are pushed by life into areas we do not wish to go. We are facing the ravages of illness and disease, the loss of those we love, financial adversity, job losses, and a world that is changing too rapidly for comfort. It is easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed. It is easy to feel like throwing in the towel when life becomes this painful. Faith and trust become harder to maintain. Resisting the urge to give in is a battle we feel we cannot fight.
If I may refer to scripture, we are not told to fight--we are told to resist. We develop ourselves spiritually through resistance against any thought or action that would place us against the will of God. We become stronger in our faith and our ability to trust our wonderful God when we resist any "principality or power" that would pull us away from the shelter of His love and provision.
Dear friends, faith is hardest to find when we are in the midst of situations we do not understand. It is harder to trust when it seems all is going wrong and there seems to be no way out. God's path for us is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Through all of our most difficult times, He is there. We learn what God is capable of doing for us when we resist the forces of evil and stand with the promises of God. We then lift the spiritual weights that strengthen us and enable us to go further in our walk with God.
I must confess I have not always been successful in resistance. There have been times when I have felt so stretched and so overwhelmed by my circumstances and the sorrows of my life that I have allowed myself to become untouched by God. I refused to listen to His words of comfort because I felt He was being unfair with the events He had allowed to come into my life. I lacked understanding of God's ability to make even the most dreaded of life's events bearable. I am reminded of a situation that was breaking my heart and becoming so painful that I felt I was being suffocated by its weight. I finally went to God in desperation and prayed, "God, if you can't take this away from me, please make it bearable". The situation did not change but I did. Many times we yearn to escape from the agony of what we are enduring but we cannot circumvent the issue with an "around" kind of faith. The only faith that will work is a "through" kind of faith; a "though God slay me I will trust Him" kind of faith. This kind of faith is resistance at its best. It develops us into the faith warriors we need to be.
So dear friends, I urge you to stay the course. You will meet resistance, of that I am certain. It is the enemy's purpose to keep us from experiencing the will of God for our lives. But, no matter what the test, never give up. Resistance training is not easy but the reward is worth it. Andre Crouch says it like this, "If I never had a problem, I'd never know that God could solve them. I'd never know what faith in God can do". The greater the resistance, the stronger the faith--the stronger the faith, the more it can do. Resistance training--it's a faith thing.