Give me a word, Lord: STRENGTH

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 31:6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This past year has been a crazy year. It has been a year full of chaos and turmoil. We have endured a global pandemic, a fiery presidential election, riots in the streets, an impeachment trial, and then another impeachment trial, wildfires, hurricanes, and ice storms. We dealt with issues of high demand and low supply of many things considered to be daily necessities. We have learned to live and breathe in a masked society. Businesses closed. Jobs were lost. Many churches have closed their doors completely with no plans to reopen in the future. We have lost loved ones, and lives have been changed. Everything looks very different than it did one year ago. However, we continue to push forward and go with it. We run until we feel like we are running out of fuel, and we refuel and run some more, but how? How do we keep on keeping on? Where do we find the strength?

I have a meme saved on my phone that I have shared several times over the years, but today it has taken on a new meaning. The meme has a background picture of an old, burly looking bull, and it reads, “Trustin’ in yourself for strength works about as well as ropin’ a bull off a stick horse.” I personally have never roped a bull, but I have seen many bulls roped through the years, and I am here to testify that I wouldn’t even try to rope a bull off of a sturdy, fast moving horse much less attempt it off of a stick horse. Bulls are big, beautiful animals. They are muscular and strong, but they are also sometimes unreliable. I’ve had a bull charge toward me more than once. Even my pet bull, McLeod, charged at me once when I was trying to move him from one field to another. For a brief second or two, I thought I would be found dead in the pine trees after being tromped on by my beloved Scottish Highland bull. The problem with this particular situation is that I was relying too much on myself and my own strength. My husband was offshore working, and the kids were at school. I’m a tough old bird, and I mistakenly assumed that I could make that bull do what I wanted just because I wanted him to do it. I did eventually get him relocated the short 20 feet I needed him to move to get him across the driveway, but it was not without much sweat, tears, literally running with the bull, coaxing, fussing, and a whole lot of prayer. I’m absolutely sure that it was the prayer that worked because nothing that I was doing with my own strength and power came close to making that bull cooperate.

Yes, my friends, we are going to run into a lot of uncooperative bulls in this life we are living. We have met quite a few obstinate ones over the past year, but praise the Lord that we do not have to try to rope these bulls in on a stick horse. We do not have to go into any battle alone. We do not have the strength to handle all of the challenges that come our way, and that is completely okay. Why? We don’t have to handle the challenges alone. The scripture is chock full of promises from our loving God that reminds us day in and day out that strength comes from Him. God has a very specific detailed plan for each of our lives, and He will stand in the gap to help you achieve exactly what He has planned for you. The lies of the enemy will try to trip us up. That old enemy is an obstinate bully, and he will throw every lie in his book at us as he tries to steal our joy in Christ. We are assured that Christ’s purpose is not to steal our joy, but to give us an abundantly rich and satisfying life in Him. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Yes, the evil one is the thief, but our Lord gives us a purpose. When we set our eyes on him, that evil one doesn’t stand a chance!

No matter what challenge you are facing today, just remember that you are not facing it alone. You may feel weak. You may feel that you have run out of steam. You may feel like you are roping a bull from a stick horse, but let me remind you that it is not your strength that will win the battle. Call out to big guns. Cry out to Jesus. He will provide everything you need to not only survive, but to thrive. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7)

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