How are your mind and soul today? What about your physical body? Do you feel weary? Tired? Exhausted? Do you feel as though you are too weak to accomplish the tasks in front of you? You feel this way because of the relentless demand of life. It tells you to do more and more as if your life depends on it. While there is nothing wrong about doing everything you can to achieve your goals, the greater truth is that your life does not depend on it; and neither your strength. It is tiring to face the challenges of life on our might alone. If you do so, it will exhaust you in every way: physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Christians should not fall into this kind of temptation; of trying to be strong using their own power. We should only and always be strong in the Lord.
In the Greek Language, “be strong” in the Lord means “to keep being empowered or strengthened”. Its Greek word does not mean being strong in one’s own strength. The strength here is “being empowered” which means there is an outside factor causing another to be strong. Ephesians 6:10 makes it clearer for us. We can’t be strong in our strength.
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”.
The source of all power and might is God alone. He also works in us to enable us so that we can be strong in standing the tests of life. His strength overflowing from His power to us produces in us the strength to endure and overcome. This is what it means to be strong in the Lord. It is Him empowering His people through their weakest and darkest moments.
With different challenges coming our way happening almost simultaneously, only those with extraordinary strengths can triumph without any gist of weariness. The battles of our lives require more than just the physical and emotional strength to overcome. We need something greater; something extraordinary. This can’t come from man’s inner strength alone but by the One who is the author of it. There are various kinds of battles that Christians faced every day. We will summarize it in two categories, the battle against the forces of evil and the battle against ourselves.
Battle Against the Forces of Evil
First, we battle against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over the present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). Now, this may sound like a Star Wars screenplay only feasible in our imagination, but it isn’t. As Christians, our battle against the darkness includes these actions. We do not just wrestle against flesh and blood but with Spiritual forces as well. The works of the enemies in the lives of God’s creation are present since the day of creation. The schemes of the devil are listed in John 10:10. The thief comes, first, to steal. The Devil will do everything to steal our strength, joy, peace, and life. He will offer us ways to quench our weariness temporarily until we become truly engaged with a temporal escape. This escape becomes our residence and we forget the true things which the enemy has stolen.
Second, we battle the Devil’s scheme to kill. If he can’t persuade you to join his tedious escape, he’ll get you by slaughtering your soul. His ways are immeasurable. The devil has nothing to lose so it must be easy for him to plot your fall. Lastly, the thief has come to destroy. Say that he can’t get you by temptation; he’ll get you through destruction. God’s creation is so gloriously wonderful that the Devil wants it destroyed. The enemy is in an all-out attack every day against the creations of God. We might be tired from battles we don’t know exists, which is dangerous because we cannot win a war we can’t see.
Battle Against One’s Self
Another battle also rages within us. We fight against ourselves each day. The moment we wake up is already a battle between our objective to get out of the bed, start the day, and our desire to get another fifteen minutes of snoozing. Many people fail in this simple test. Why? Because it is easy to follow the desire of man than to obey the rules set before him. Galatians 5:17 tells us that the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that we are not to do whatever you want. The last phrase of the verse should echo within our hearts so that our Spirit can overcome the flesh. We are not to do whatever we want.
To be strong in the Lord means allowing His Spirit to strengthen our spirit so that it can overwhelm the temptations of the flesh and the lies of the enemy and not the way around. We may be facing these battles every day but there is an important truth that we need to highlight amidst these combats. Every battle belongs to God.
The Battle Is Not Ours
No matter how small or vast our battles are, is not ours to win. The truth is, it is impossible to win these battles with our own power. We are utterly unable. The only way to win these battles is to give it to God. There are just two steps to be strong in the Lord in our daily battles. First, let go. Second, let God. If we want to experience real freedom from unnecessary worries and needless weariness, we must stop carrying burdens that we are not meant to carry. Instead, we must start letting God take the lead and fight for us. We often come to God, when the war waging in us is too much for us to handle. But the Bible tells us a different approach.
It is the Lord our God who fights for us (Deuteronomy 3:22). The tactic of having Him as the last resort will do us no good. We will find ourselves already exhausted before we can even fight back. He is our true strength. Putting Him first will save us moments of frustrations and nights of weariness. We don’t need to always feel tired before we come to God. He expects that we submit to Him everything, not only those which challenge us.
We need to be strong in the Lord in every aspect of our lives. Some lose the war because of excessive confidence. They think their enemies can’t outsmart them so they rely on their defense so when things fall out of the plan, they lose many armies before they can finally win. On a bad occasion, they lose at all. Christians don’t fight battles this way. Our method of winning is through surrender.
The Act of Surrender
Surrender? Yes, you’ve read it right. Surrender is a very negative word in our society. It means defeat for most people. However, the act of surrender which the Bible tells us is not passive combat (Romans 6:13). It does not let go and do nothing. It lets God do what He desires. Surrendering in the Bible is submission to God. It means submission of any aspect of your life in recognition that we alone can’t do it without God. To surrender to God means to admit that we on our own strength are powerless and are bound to fail. But, in God, we are strong for He reigns over all things. Victory is in His name.
The act of surrender means yielding to God who is the highest authority in one’s life. If we want to defeat the forces of evil, we need to come to the One who is higher and stronger than any rulers on the earth. There is no other name greater than the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:9). Surrender is never passive. In truth, it is an active effort that needs practice. To live life daily surrendered to God indicates a heart that says yes to God on a daily basis. Saying yes to God is both submission and obedience. This is what a surrendered life implies. There is no other way to win our battles but to give it to God. Let Him take over. Allow Him to show his power in us. The battle belongs to Him, not us. It’s for him to decide not our desire.
If you want to be strong in the Lord, James 4:7 gives us this formula: Submit to God and resist the devil. Combining these two and the devil will flee from you.
Fight in God’s Power
When we face trials of various kinds, we should never forget that God is bigger than any circumstance we face. If we start to feel like we can’t persevere any longer, entrust to God your weaknesses for He is mighty. The Lord is mighty to save. He is mighty to help us. Jesus is mighty to take over our wars and turn them into victories. During our struggles to find hope and strength, we must recognize that the power of God can change everything, and use anything for our good. You might be feeling weary and weak right now. Your situation might be so unclear right now, but the Lord who called you for His purpose is doing anything for your good (Romans 8:28). To be strong in the Lord is acknowledging His eternal and matchless power.
It’s time to say goodbye to an outward show of strength and say hello to the mighty power of God. Acknowledging God’s power means knowing His character and making it active in our lives. He is our refuge and strong tower (Psalm 18:2). The Lord is our rock and mighty fortress (Psalm 18:2). He is our shield, stronghold, and deliverer (Psalm 144:2). The Lord is our light and salvation. He is the strength of our life (Psalm 27:1).
Here’s a truth some people will try to elude. We cannot trust our ability to be strong. If we do, we set ourselves to exhaustion, failure, and a false sense of triumph. Being strong in the Lord is about trusting Him. We do not fight an earthly weapon but with the weapons of the Lord. The weapons of God have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). Hence, we are fighting in God’s power and not in our individual force.
We Are Never Alone
Being strong in the Lord is also being with Him. God is in the midst of our struggle whenever we experience it. He is with us through our sufferings. The Lord goes before us and behind us. He is within us and around us. God leads us. He fights for us. The Lord also redeems us and delivers us. Throughout everything that has happened to and around us, He has been with us. Even when we don’t know how He is working, we should know he will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Our lack of knowledge does not stop God from fighting for us. He knows what amount of strength we need to overcome for HE is with us, always.
The Lord is not a far-off God. He likes it to be near to His children. God is always working with you and within you. Sometimes, He changes the situation you’ve been trapped in. Other times, He changes you. So, whatever it is that keeps you awake at night or drains the energy in you even before the day starts, do not forget that God is with you. He will never abandon us in our times of struggles.
Put on God’s Armor
When Apostle Paul instructs the Church of Ephesus to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might (Ephesians 6:10), he did not leave them hanging. Paul gives them a powerful defense to remain strong in the Lord. The next verse says “Put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil”. The armor of God is a metaphor signifying the defense that Christians need to put on to stand the attacks of the enemy. It consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Each part of the armor represents significant focuses of the Christian faith. These are the key weapons for a follower of Christ so they can be strong in the Lord in whatever circumstances and difficulties they face.
The belt of truth symbolizes the only truth which Christians should adhere to. Whatever lies the enemy throws at us, we must only stand on the foundation of God’s truth. The belt secures all other parts of a warrior’s armor together. It is also where the sword is placed. The Sword of the Spirit on the other hand represents the Word of God. Of all the portions of the armor, the sword is the only weapon that is offensive and defensive in nature. The belt of truth carries the Word of god which is the strength of every Christian.
The next piece of the armor is the breastplate of righteousness. For an ancient warrior, the breastplate protects the vital organs of the body. The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts from the deceptions of the enemy. As for shoes to our feet, we also must put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. It will allow us to walk through deep waters while carrying the mission of God to the world. Another piece of the armor which is also of vital importance is the shield of faith. A shield will protect us from any weapon. A firm faith in God will keep Christians strong in the Lord whatever smear the devil might throw. The Bible says it can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
Finally, the helmet of salvation protects the mind which is the same as our walk in Christ. The message of salvation should dwell in our minds so that whatever worries or sinful thoughts will come, the message of grace will overwhelm these thoughts away. Be strong in the Lord by wearing His armor. These are not a representation for the sake of it. They mean the most important Christian subjects which are non-negotiable in winning our battles. Let us face any spiritual battle, ready with the armor of God.
Power of Prayer
The final instruction of Paul to the Ephesians is that to be strong in the Lord, we must “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”. There are many examples in the Bible that shows how God’s people overcame their struggles with His help and power. One example is Samson. When Samson lost all his strength due to his disobedience to God, the Philistines were able to seize him. The Philistines forced him into hard labor and later tied him to the pillars of the Temple of Dagon to mock him. Samson during this time called to God and asked for his strength again to take revenge on the Philistines after they had gouged out his eyes. The Lord gave back Samson’s strength enabling him to pull down the pillars he was tied to, bringing down the temple killing everyone who was there.
That day, Samson died together with the Philistines but the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those of whom he had killed during his life (Judges 16:30). Samson suffered in the hands of the Philistines particularly when they took his eyes. Samson knew He failed God. But God never left Samson. The Lord never allowed Samson to die without accomplishing his task. God gave Samson the supernatural strength to get out of the shackles of the Philistines. Just one prayer to God and he has been freed from the chains of his enemies. Yet, Samson’s prayer must have not been a low-key prayer. Remember, Samson didn’t pray for God to save him; he wished to die with the Philistines. His prayer must be so desperate that he was ready to die.
Persist in Prayer
It can be that the enemy had you in the bondages of his traps. You may not see a way to escape. Perhaps, you are starting to lose hope in your present circumstance. There can be weaknesses and sins within you that you find hard to surrender to God. Your story has not ended yet. The Lord has a greater purpose for you. He is the God who sets free. There is freedom in Him. You will only need to ask Him. Whatever chain it is that stops you and keeps you weak, ask God to take it and break it for you. However labor work you do, you cannot pull it off away from with your strength. If you have sinned against God, He is always willing to forgive you and give you the strength to withstand the temptations of the enemy.
Never get tired of praying. The Lord hears our every cry and listens to every prayer. Samson may have gotten his strength back with just one prayer or maybe he prayed to God tirelessly while he was in prison, we don’t know. But, he prayed. He failed God, but He still prayed to Him. When we pursue to be strong in the Lord, we start to see how weak and sinful we are. And that does not prevent us from calling unto God for more strength. On the contrary, it should draw us closer to God for more of His strength.
Resting in God’s Strength
To be strong in the Lord also means we can rest in Him. Upon discovering that the battle is not ours but God’s, we should easily understand the rest we have after this truth. Resting in God’s presence is far from the rest this world has to offer. It does not hide through sugar-coated longing which is inside rotten. It is “rest” in its purest essence. This is peace which does not negate the fact there is a battle. It does not hide the realities of the world. It only highlights the power of God’s truths. There is so much happening around. If we choose to be bothered, we will find ourselves stuck in frustration and fear. The enemy can steal our joy and peace. We should not allow that so we are to rest in God’s strength.
The storm may be big, but God holds the universe, we can rest in His palms. Our strength fades and perishes but the strength of God is perpetual. Paul Maxwell writes “Our rest is not measured in minutes or hours, but in proximity.” Sabbath is a day, but it is also a place with God— a place he makes, where he pursues us.” The closer we are to God the better we can find rest in this hectic world.
We can choose our battles. Not all wars are worth fighting for. Our faithfulness to God is not measured by the numbers of victories we had. Let us take time to pause and find rest in God’s strength so we can be strong in the Lord despite all the things occurring within and around us. Rest is Biblical (Genesis 2:2-3; Matthew 11:28-30). The latter verse tells us to give God all our heavy laden so He can give us rest.