“Be strong, do not fear!” the prophet Isaiah (35:4) tells us.
Lately I have been engaged in an ongoing conversation with my mom about strength (and not simply physical strength). We have been tossing ideas back and forth on what it means to be strong, how we act when we feel strong, sources of strength and what inspires and amazes us about strength. It has been an interesting conversation and one that has revealed a bit more about each of us.
The other day I called her and asked, “Mom, when we were kids and teens and you were running a business and catering with dad, making sure we had what we needed, getting us to places we needed to be, volunteering in the community and church and chairing a committee or two, did you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry? How did you do it?”
She laughed, admitted to tears a few times and said she just continued on day by day. It was in that moment that I realized that the source of our strength is so important. The prophet Isaiah doesn’t stop with “be strong, do not fear” no, he continues on saying, “Here is your God.” It was in asking my mom that question and listening to her honesty and reflections on life then and life now that the source of her strength was obvious; it is God.
This our God who walks with us when tears need to fall in the shower, when we need to stand next to someone we struggle with, when we mourn and hurt, when the plate seems too full, when no answer seems to be the right answer, when we are confident, when all things come together, when reconciliation is achieved, when we step forth in freedom and when tasks are accomplished with ease. Our God is here and now, always. Our God is our strength. Our God opens our eyes to see, loosens are tongues to sing, nourishes us with the gift of his Son and enables us to rise and up and dance the dance of life.
Truly our God is our strength and our God loves us so much that he offers examples and images of strength to inspire and encourage us. Such as people (both great and small – think of wise leaders and then think of a baby in NICU), to situations or movements that stir us, to the voices of justice, to a waterfall or a mountain or a crocus in the spring time, or lone leaf on a tree or mustard seed or a blind man called to “be opened” (Mark 7:31-27) and see; truly see the love and strength of God.
I know this conversation with my Mom will continue. We will discuss life’s stories and adventures that call upon the gift of strength, we will remember people and situations that demanded strength, we ponder what strength we carry and poses and it will lead us again and again to our God who is here, who is our hope and in who we put our trust and who says to us, “Be strong, do not fear! I am here.”
How will you be, receive and share strength this week?
Be sure to pause and thank God for being the source of that strength!
For more to chew on consider reading Romans 8:31-37.