If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Proverbs 24, verse 10.
Did you know you are stronger than you give yourself credit for being? I’m back on Facebook after taking a few weeks away. I missed interacting with friends there, and I missed seeing what my friends were doing. A confession is in order here: I didn’t miss the drama. It was pointed out to me that I sometimes am dramatic, and that’s one of the reasons I backed away for awhile. I didn’t want to put up with the drama. More than that, I really tired of causing drama, especially in the heart of one so dear. I had brought too much drama into life and caused times of trouble; my strength had begun to feel small. I needed a break, needed to center myself.
It got me thinking that, online or off, these are still times of trouble. Joblessness, worry, stress, strife, falling away and falling apart: we all know people who struggle with these things. Sometimes they are us. Life moves us in new directions and when that happens, it causes angst. God talks to us all the time, but we don’t listen all the time. When we don’t listen, is it any wonder that times of trouble enter our lives? And in those times, how easy it is to fall prey to the idea that our strength really is small, that things won’t get better, that God can’t possibly care or love us the way we are, that happiness just can’t be had.
In the hardest time of my life, during a time of trouble that I largely brought on myself, my Mom gave me a gift that says “Don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is.” It’s a reminder that, in love, all things are possible. Last year, I met a man who told me how he prayed over the weather, how he earnestly prayed when a tornado threatened his house and that tornado moved away. I listened and looked at him thinking, “is he for real?” Praying over a tornado? You’re kidding me, right? But that’s exactly what Christ says anyone with faith can do. The power of the Almighty can accomplish anything. Was it his faith or force majeure? Only God knows, but the man’s house is still standing today.
Every day, we’re faced with decisions, large and small, that shape our lives. Some of them are life-changers; some are just about what to have for dinner. All of them are important. And every day we do a thousand or more small tasks that shape each other and what comes after. I’m discovering a side of myself that I buried for a long time, namely a decisive one. It’s easy to do when things are going well. In the recent past, I’ve been very blessed with some small but significant successes in my professional life. In my personal life, though, I’ve been wrestling with other issues and I’ve been discovering how good it feels to remember that, even in the middle of feeling down, my strength is anything but small. It’s hard to think and be decisive when you’re down, but those are the times when we should let Him who guides us do the leading. In the times when things are tough, the best thing to do is to knuckle down, prepare and train, gird yourself for battle and then…
…let go. Let go of the control, the worry, the angst and the pride and let God go to work. That’s a message that the verse is delivering. Read it again and I think you’ll see it sitting there in-between the letters. It’s saying “you don’t need to falter because My strength is your strength. Rely on that so that, if you falter in times of trouble, you won’t be left thinking how small is your strength.”
I briefly talked with my son last night. He’s on a mission trip, biking across northeastern Illinois, doing VBS programs at various churches. He said they biked 36 miles yesterday (and also that he’s allergic to corn leaves…no explanation needed). He’s sore, tired, worn out already, and a little homesick. It would be very easy for him to think that his strength is small during tough days of riding…but it isn’t. He’s learning that he can rely on a personal, life-churning conduit to the strength of a Savior who never grows weak. The physical exercise is grueling and the spiritual stripping-away of the dross of daily life is a tough thing at any age. But he’s doing it. He’s proving that the verse is a good warning to heed, and a reminder that divine strength can overcome anything.
I’ll remember that as I’m weaving my way through Facebookland again. I’m determined to do better, to not be snarky or gossip; I want what I say and do to build others up as well as have some fun that never tears down. It isn’t worth posting something if it hurts someone or makes my God look small. He’s anything but small. After all, I am stronger than I give myself credit for being when I base my strength in Him who is bigger than myself. When that happens, whether the storms are in the clouds or online, they’re no match for me & God.