I shared this once before but it was before I had this blog, so I’m reposting it in the context of these journal entries I’ve been sharing.
For awhile I’ve noticed a new theme in my life: the power of God’s strength in my weakness. I’ve seen Him teaching it to me little by little and experienced it like I’m in the midst of my own book; little by little I move from one page to the next. I can see that I have moved on from the beginning of the book, but I can also tell that there is much yet to discover–and that I will discover it, because God will show me in the upcoming pages and there are surprises ahead. But fortunately I’m content with where I am now, on this page.
I noticed this theme because I found it everywhere–in every Scripture I opened to, in homilies, in every book I read, in music, and even on a little piece of paper that I haven’t seen in years that fell out of my backpack. It was from a festival of praise back in college, at least four years ago and it only just fell out now.
But at first it was just a theme, a concept. I didn’t know how to make God my strength–I only knew that He needed to be.
So eventually I started asking the Holy Spirit to fill me with His strength, every morning.
I started to see how much I really do actually need to be weak in order to be filled with His strength. What is already filled cannot be filled more, and my own false strength is such a pitiful replacement for God’s nourishing strength. When I finally accepted that I am not as strong as I thought I was and determined not to push myself even just in everyday activities, but to slow down and just be with God and let Him recharge me, everything changed. Instead of distracting myself with too much media when I’m struggling, or working till I’m burnt out, now I can just melt in God and let Him fill me–just by being with Him.
Last weekend was very insightful for me and God walked me through the next pages of the book. My mom took me to a women’s conference, the theme of which was “The Joy of the Lord is my strength.”
In my house, our biggest struggle is with depression. When I am constantly fighting depression, anxiety, and a natural tendency to despair, I yearn for joy. And suddenly God showed me that joy is not the goal–it is the answer!
The first talk at the conference was actually about strength in weakness, and joy–the Joy of the Lord–being that strength. (God is awesome. He works things together so perfectly.)
But the thing is, I have to let that joy in. It can be so tempting, so easy, to stay fixed in my sorrow. And if the Joy of the Lord is my strength, the devil will absolutely try as hard as he can to make me turn away from joy.
LET GOD’S BLESSING IN! He’ll help me live that joy if I let Him in with it. Because how often do I cast myself on Him, begging Him for help, telling Him I trust Him and thinking I do–when the very way He’s trying to help me is just giving me strength in joy and I’m refusing to let myself be joyful?
It’s hard to do because I don’t want to be given the strength to deal with my circumstances–I want my circumstances to change. But the change in my circumstances needs to be the change in my heart, the change that is me accepting God’s strength and living in my exterior circumstances in authentic, God-given joy.
So how can I let that joy in, when it’s so hard to do? God showed me two ways last weekend.
“Be still and know that I am God,” He said to me in a moment of stillness when I asked Him to speak to my heart. In stillness, I can slow down enough to just be with Him, and He will fill me there. Knowing–a knowing that penetrates my entire being with assurance and belief–that He is God inevitably leads to being confident that He’s with me, He’ll help me, and then it’ll be easier to accept that help.
Praise and thanksgiving. God has given me so much to be thankful for, ever so much more than the things I struggle with even if all I may let myself notice is the struggles. See the blessings. See my life in perspective, in Truth. And praise Him, praise Him. It’ll open the door to let His joy in.