Such A Pain In The Neck
I couldn't lift my head off my pillow this morning. The pain was excruciating. Instead I had to roll over to my other side and use different muscles to get out of bed. I pulled the neck muscle last week. The doctor performed acupuncture to relieve the pain and I did some resistance exercises to strengthen the muscles. Someone over did it, and as much as I would like to blame the doctor, well we will just leave it at that.
I started the strength exercises to increase muscle tone. There is something alluring about having more strength. While Rebecca was preparing the details of our wedding (years ago) I was in the weight room pumping up. I wanted to exude power and strength. I think I pulled something there too.
There is all kinds of power, but the most impressive power is displayed by those who go through difficult situations with grace. I have been fired from jobs, gone through depression, lost a house and money, but I don't think I have truly had to endure true hardship.
I have sat with people who had to decide to take a daughter off life support, others who waited for a loved one to die, and sat with a man who was dying of cancer. I have counseled parents who lost a baby, whose child wrestled with bi-polar disease, and held the hand of one whose daughter tried to commit suicide. There were the couples with irreconcilable differences, alcoholic spouses, and unequally yoked. I have sat crying with children who lost their father suddenly to a heart attack, and danced my daughter-in-law's first dance at her wedding because her father had died a year earlier. Not all of them faced their ordeals with patient endurance and thanksgiving. No, that takes a divine strength.
Recently the news has been filled with the murder of Christians at the hands of ISIS, and though they are not the only ones to suffer they are the most publicized. I was amazed as one of the mothers held up a picture of her son and said, "he was God's from birth; he was never mine to hold on to. I am proud that he died keeping the faith (paraphrased)." That is strength!
Trails and pain are a natural parts of life. We each go through our own pain, some more intense than others. Satan attacks us at our weakest points, and works to cause us to become bitter and ungrateful. It is easy to complain in our pain and cry, "why me, Lord?" As if we are the only ones to have ever gone through trials. Yet, it is our pain, and someone else might have gone through it or something even worse, I never have and it seems unbearable. We each need strength.
Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be strengthened with strength that is the strength of God. In our translations we use synonyms to make it flow, but the words all mean the same thing, strength.
We are strengthened. It is a continual process, a daily need. It's not a magic formula or miracle drug. It comes to us when we need it.
With all strength. It doesn't wane half way through our need, it sustains us all the way though and then some. It is varied and tailored to our need. Sometimes is comes through his word, sometimes from a moving of his Spirit, other times through the comforting presence of a fellow believer.
According to His glorious strength. The key to all power is its source. We endure every circumstance because God is greater than the circumstance. Jesus said that we don't need to fear because he has overcome the world. We have God's strength, his Spirit, his Word, and his body at our disposal to deal with any situation,
The phenomenal or miraculous part of the power is its product. It produces patient endurance with thanksgiving to God. Paul didn't promise deliverance, though it could happen. He didn't promise healing, though it could happen. He didn't promise financial gain, though it could come. What he did promise was a change in perspective and attitude.
Seeing the world for what it is helps us to get a handle on life. The world is sinful, painful, and full of sorrow. It is easy to become angry, bitter, and ungrateful. When we see the big picture of God's plan we realize that his kingdom is growing, He is moving, and that one day He will return and make things complete. In the meantime we are to patiently endure and give thanks to God for his provision. Sometimes that means an easy life, most of the time it means peace midst the storm.
I am thankful that I have a Father who strengthens me with all strength according to His strength, so that I can patiently endure all situations that come my way. (Colossians 1:22). I'm just saying.