The Lord gives his people strength.The Lord blesses them with peace.
-Psalm 29:11 (NLT)
We all have a story. That story is ultimately full of ups and downs, with some more extreme than others. When we find the strength to tell others our stories of deep struggles or crushing emotional hardships, the shock and amazement brings people to ask us, “Where did you find the strength to get through all of that?!?” I have seen most people of faith quickly respond by crediting nothing short of the Hand of God with their endurance. What intrigues me the most is the surprise I see in others when they hear that response. People are amazed by the awesome power of faith to carry a Christian through the toughest of times. For some, the grief they have experienced is more than I could imagine, but I have had my share of lows and rock-bottoms. There is one thing I have noticed since I have begun serving as a pastor; I don’t hear that question from people.
Rarely if ever do I hear, “Where did you get your strength from?” or “How did you stay hopeful all those years?” I’m not sure why, but I have a theory.
Generally speaking, when people talk
with me and are aware I’m a pastor, it naturally affects the way they talk with
me. I doubt most people do it consciously, and that’s okay, I totally get it. I
think people just try to behave themselves around me. But, in this case I think
there’s more to it. Since my title automatically makes me a “religious person”,
I think people don’t ask me this question because most just assume what my
answer would naturally be: “God gave me the strength. Without my faith in
Jesus, I would have never made it through.”
And they would be right.
But why stop asking faithful Christians where they find their strength? Maybe people with a reputation for strong faith are not asked as often because the person may be thinking, “Yeah I know, they think faith is strength, but I want to hear from a real person, to hear what they went through, and how they found the strength.”
Maybe we prefer to ask others where they find their strength because we are holding out hope that this world will have the answers we are looking for. Looking into the world for something to lean on is easier than leaning solely on the strength we find through our faith. Why do we need to find something besides God that gives us the strength to endure? Are we at least a little hopeful a part of this world could truly, deeply, and completely save us from our hardships?
I am troubled when even Christians are guilty of doing this. It is part of an inner struggle to break away from the past, to overcome fear and become certain the world does not have the answers we truly need. We really do have to lean on the strength of our faith if we are going to get through the bad days. Maybe sometimes we don’t realize our faith in God is not as strong as we say it is. When we really need it, having a little more humility goes a long way.
Let’s be honest, this season is rough (kind of like the rest of the year), and being Christian doesn’t mean we get to have a better life than the next guy. Faith doesn’t get us out of hardship, but it does remind us that we are not forgotten. We have been called into the family of a God who passionately desires to reclaim his children lost in a world of pain and disappointment. This season, I encourage you to grow in the assurance that Jesus is our ultimate and unfailing source of hope and peace in the midst of all of life’s storms.
Rev. James Laiben December,2018