Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sweat & Strength

"Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead"
(2 Corinthians 1:9).

Basic Training. Summertime in South Carolina. Humid, hot, and harsh. It was the best of times and oh, it was the worst of times. Waking at four o'clock during a time that I never realized was on the clock twice in one day, to assemble in a formation for the purpose of running took me way past fun. It was supposed to. Basic training was a process of breaking me down until all of "me" and who I thought I was into who they believed I could be. I remember writing home one evening half-way through training. I wrote words that resembled the following thought: "There are so many that have given up. It can be discouraging. At times, I've considered calling it quits, too. But not now. It's not that it has gotten any easier. It's just that I have gotten stronger. God has helped me to do what I never thought was possible. And by myself, it wasn't. I can do this. I'm going to do this. Make sure you're at graduation. I'm going to come through this with flying colors."

We've all been there. There are times when we feel as though we might not actually get through. But, for the grace of God. Paul begins his second letter to Corinthian church by encouraging and expressing. He encourages them to endure though they face trials, attacks, temptations, and hardships. He expresses his unity and understanding, for he, at the time of his writing, his experiencing them, too. Who Paul was did not exempt him from the challenges and adversities of life. It was how Paul saw them and responded to them that made the difference.

Former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft once said that you can never have a resurrection unless first there is a crucifixion. He wrote of rises and falls in his public and political adventures. When there was a defeat, there was also a deliverance. Each loss opened the door for a n opportunity that would take him further than what he had foreseen. This is the principle of sweat and strength. God allows us to experience the pain of the stretching and strengthening, because He is preparing us for what are yet able to fully see.

This may be a challenge for you. If so, don't be discouraged. You are not alone. Continue to rely on Him. Realize that it is not by your strength alone that will see you through. Know that He is with you. Rest in His strength. Allow His peace to comfort you during the times where you begin to feel as though you're all alone. Trust Him. Depend on Him. He is the God of all faithfulness. He is the one who can raise you from the hardships and struggles, and He is longing to turn the sweat that forms in the heat of your situation into a strength that is perfected by His power.

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