How to Find Strength in Hard Places: Part 1
When difficult seasons arise in our life we can feel undone, defeated, and desperate. But God is a provider and he provides strength to us in the most surprising ways to overcome whatever battle we may be facing.
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
In the Old Testament, supernatural strength always came in the least expected ways. Whether it was hidden in the length of Samson’s long locks, the shocking sight of a young shepherd boy killing an infamous giant, or an Israelite marching band playing musical laps around a crumbling wall, God loves to use the unexpected when displaying power and strength. Flash forward to the New Testament and we find that God hasn’t changed. Supernatural Strength is still accessible, powerful, and readily available to new covenant believers as well and still just as counterintuitive to the ways of the world.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
When we are faced with difficult seasons, particularly when the season is prolonged, it’s typical for weariness to set in and for all of our strength and energy to become depleted. Running this race of life on fumes and caffeine can seem like the only antidote to exhaustion. But God offers a better route to recovering strength and that route is joy.
In God’s Kingdom, joy is strength. Merriam-Webster describes joy this way: “to experience great pleasure or delight : rejoice”. When we have joy pressed down and running over, we also have strength pressed down and running over because joy becomes the scaffold for strength to stand on. Joy allows our earthly perspective to shift into a heavenly perspective and opens our eyes to see possibility and opportunity where there has been negativity and lack. Joy creates an atmosphere for our spirit to thrive in gladness. When our spirit is basking in joy, our body and mind will follow suit.
Here are three ways below I’ve found help me access strength through practicing joy:
God is joy and spending time with him will transform us more into his image. So let him sing his love song of joy over you while soaking in his presence of grace and love. Worship, prayer, journaling, and prophetic word are all wonderful ways to soak in his love for us. Spending one on one time with Jesus is essential for our souls well-being and will help us to renew our strength while resting in him. (Ps. 91:1-2)
Yes, there are problems in this world, and yes, many of those problems are discouraging but there is still much to celebrate and much to enjoy in this life as well. And it is well worth our time and essential for our well being to celebrate all the good in life too. Heaven’s priority is celebrating the goodness of God and our call is to bring heaven to earth. Celebrating is a wonderful way to usher in joy and our whole body will benefit from it.
I love the harvest season because it reminds me of the importance of gratitude. Scientists have discovered that the happiest people are also the most thankful. Challenge yourself to proactively practice daily gratitude with yourself and others. Grab a journal, jot down the things you are thankful for, or pick up the phone and call someone you’re glad is part of your life. There are a million little ways to show gratitude! Joy is bound to be the result and joy naturally gives births to strength!
Abba, show me the places where I am on running on fumes instead of supernatural strength. Draw me once again into your presence where I can receive your joy and be rejuvenated. Your presence is life itself and you offer yourself freely and generously. Help me to celebrate where I need to celebrate and express gratitude for all you’ve given even in difficult circumstances. I receive all that you have for me. I am yours. Amen.