Reading: Psalm 28
The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
When hardship comes, we often wonder if we have the strength. But then we learn that the Lord is our strength. It isn’t something that has to come up from within, something we have to muster for ourselves.
But I’ve always balked at the idea that the Lord is my strength—at least the way it’s described above. What exactly does that mean? At what point exactly do I get my deposit of “Lord’s-strength” to fill the void in my own strength?
Of course, that’s not really the way to think about it. But I had found an alternative until I realized that it was not really about a feeling of strength. The Lord isn’t giving me feelings of strength. Instead, he himself is my strength.
And what that really means is that I don’t draw my confidence from myself, but from him. I’m not looking to myself to stabilize my emotions or to endure the hardship; I’m looking to him instead. In other words, I don’t place my faith in myself, but in the Lord.
Practically speaking, that means when hardship comes along, I’m not searching for ways that I can carry on or looking for self-talk that will convince me I’m really ok when I’m not. Instead, I’m turning my attention to the promises of God. I’m singing hymns and reading the psalms. I’m looking at the Lord Jesus on the cross. I’m looking at the empty tomb. I don’t find my strength there. I find his.
But I don’t appropriate his strength to myself as though it were a substance to be syphoned. Instead, I maintain that God has the ultimate victory. Even though what I’m experiencing is too much, not even death was too much for him. Even though I’m overwhelmed, he is not. And I know that eventually his victory will be my victory. I won’t overcome; he will overcome and will take me with him. That’s why he is our strength.
It’s like the Israelites faced with Goliath. They were scared; Goliath was too much for them. They didn’t have any strength. That’s why God appointed David. David’s strength became their strength, just as David’s victory became their victory. Likewise, Jesus’ strength to endure becomes our strength; his victory is our victory.
Jesus, all of this so often feels like too much, and our strength is all but dried up within us. Teach us to see the victory that you’ve won for us in your sacrifice on the cross. Teach us to live in your strength rather than in our own.