“God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.” Stop it. This is a meme I’ve seen floating around and I’m very sure the writer intended it to inspire and encourage. However, there’s an underside to this message. This implies that God has weak soldiers. And some who read this may think, well, I’m just not a strong soldier, so why try?
Hey, you. We are all broken and weak. Earthlings are piddly little fleshlings, filled with bones and blood. Some have more muscle than others, some more brains. Some have more faith. Some have faith in the God who made it all. And that last one is the key.
“In the strength of the Lord I can do all things” (Philippians 4:13).
Believe in yourself.
Paul (from the Bible, yo) repeatedly asked God to remove a “thorn” from his flesh, and spectators continue to question what that thorn was.
What is yours? Let me share one of mine. Self image. I’m not sure why I can’t get it through my head, and keep it there, that I am valuable. My wonderful parents raised me to believe in myself, my church family always encouraged me, and I’ve never really come across anyone who outright shouted in my face that I was worthless or dumb. I guess there was that one incident on the playground in middle school, but, seriously, if that’s what it was, then, girl, get over it. She was a bully. You’re fantastic.
This one is for all of us: if you’re reading this, then you have an intrinsic, amazing purpose. God pieced you together, one hair at a time (even the ones in your nose) and has a hope and a future for you. Regardless of what kind of person you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you are on the planet. You’re still on the planet.
In the darkness and the hailstorm, God stands by you. Do you believe that? Do you believe in the deep down gut of your instincts, experience, and knowledge, that God loves you? He does. He wants you to seek his heart. He’s right there. He’ll build you up into something much more than you could have ever planned for yourself.
Hard things, bad things, happen to everyone. You can deal with it if you walk by the side of your glorious commander.
You are a strong soldier. Say it to yourself. I am strong. In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. I can be kind, I can be tough, I can hold my ground. I can tell the truth, I can be loving, I can be wise, I can fix wrongs. Say it. Believe it. Be it.
What is a tough soldier? Like a Navy Seal or a Green Beret or an Army Ranger? Hoorah. (Not hooray, lol.)
What does it take to be a tough soldier? Strength, both physically and mentally. It takes thick skin, humility, wisdom. Patience, resolve. The soldiers who experienced and wrote the story of their experience enduring the attack on Benghazi in 2012– in their interview, they showed humility and a calm resolve – knowing their strengths, trusting their training, and utilizing their resources.
Now, I KNOW that you and I will each have our own definition of a bad day. We have different definitions of a good day. Some days will be sunshine and butterfly kisses, and some will be blazing desert windstorms or a vomiting child or a broken down car.
But God is there. Be the better you, because he is with you, giving you the strength to do it. Take a step back when those bombs fall. You will be stressed, you will feel anger, your pulse will rocket out of your body. There won’t be enough money in the bank, your arms may be too tired to carry any of it one second longer, and your aching knees may batter against the ground.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. You can do all things.
Because God has this. His strength enables you to carry on, to walk in that door, to drive a few more miles, to finish.
What is a soldier without any self-confidence? Can it even be? Let us not be the devoured or the extinguished.
I’m about to have to do some hard things. I’m in the middle of doing hard, cruddy, humbling things. I’ve known hard things. I’ve conquered hard things. I worked toward and earned my Master’s degree while working full time as an office manager, in my second year of marriage, and pregnant. I aced all my classes. I had a lot of late nights, a lot of stress, and high blood pressure. I was careflighted to have an emergency c-section. Hard. Things. And I’m about to walk through several other thick, barred doors in this great, confusing building that is life. I’m not sure how big this room is. It may be very cold and it will be a challenge, without a doubt.
So now, I’m arming myself. Power up, soldier.
You are stronger than you think. If you have a cognizant relationship with God, you have the ability to move mountains. Who knows what those mountains may look like. Each of us has a different mountain.
In the strength of the Lord.
How do you get to be strong? “Strong is earned,” as Jade Teta says. Strong takes time. Strong takes heart. Work it. Find it. Do it. Strength shows in times of trials. Make a list of fears and weaknesses. Make a list of your strengths. Exercise them all. Build your relationship with God. Seek him. Read his fabulous words, multiple times a day. Write them on cards and put them where you will see them, especially where you need them the most. Seek his heart in prayer. Be conscious about strengthening your relationship with God, about seeking his heart and his presence. Because he is there. Don’t worry about seeking other people, because they will stumble or disappear.
And go take a good walk. Every day. Take time to reflect on the cosmos. God speaks through his creations, so go experience the ones that won’t mess up his message with words.
You know, we can’t see heaven. I have no idea where it is. I haven’t had any special interactions with angels that I really know of, no glowing people saying to ‘fear not’ or anything like that. But each of those hard things that I can look past on, I can see how some greater presence than myself got us through it.
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). The other day I was on my daily walk and as I looked up into the endless blue sky, those succulent white clouds puffed by, looking somewhat like wings. Maybe they were angel wings. Maybe they were just a reminder that there’s so much more to this life than what we can see at this moment.
There’s one Bible verse that has stuck out to me and I have it by my mirror. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). The human’s first inclination is to do evil, because all have sinned and fall short. Reshape those inclinations to turn from evil, and do good. Seek peace. Seek God, the author and embodiment of peace. Pursue that. Dictionary.com says that pursue means “to follow someone or something in order to catch or attack them” … “to follow close upon…to proceed in accordance with…to carry on….to practice” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pursue). Pursue means to dig in. Stay close to it.
I was out of the house for a week and had left a bottle of water in the fridge. I took it out, unsure of its quality. The drops of condensation inside reminded me that some creatures thrive when they are left alone, and some thrive when they are riled up. Some thrive in the cold, and some thrive in the heat. Humans are ridiculously resilient, and we can find a way to thrive in all of those situations. You have to want it, you have to be aware of it, and you have to have faith.
Don’t allow anyone else or circumstances around you to take your passion or divert you from that goal. Maybe it's time for you to hop out of the fridge. Maybe you're facing the fire. Maybe you're shaken and stirred. You can do this.
From beginning to end, God has been there, seen it, known it. He knows the other guy’s plan. He knows the stories we create. He hears the enemy even when we can’t. He is also the creator of the plot twist and the big reveal. So follow your commander, your creator, your provider. Trust him, because the lights will go out. He’s right beside you. He handpicked you. And He thinks you are awesome.
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