If you are like many Americans, after a long day at work or school you drag yourself home and change your clothes and head off to the gym or fitness center to work out. You might focus on cardio or weight training. Maybe you listen to your iPod while you use the elliptical machine or run on the treadmill. You might use dumbbells and kettlebells or take classes that focus on yoga, pilates, and building core strength. Or possibly instead of going to the gym, you like to run or bike or swim for exercise.
Why do we exercise anyway? Why do we spend time and money sweating our butts off? Because we desire to stay physically fit and either gain flexibility and strength or keep what we already have. In the Jimmy Buffett song Fruitcakes there is a lyric that goes like this – “I treat my body like a temple, you treat yours like a tent.” It is a good thing to stay in shape and take care of our physical bodies. It is the only one you will ever have. But today we want to talk about another kind of strength; the strength that we get from our relationship with God. The strength that helps you persevere through difficult times, the strength needed to make hard decisions, the strength to keep going through life, the strength to sustain you when your heart grows weary, the strength just to sit still in times when sitting still is needed.
The Bible is full of references to this strength that does not come from physical exercise at the gym. Exodus 15:2 says, The Lord is my strength and my defense.
In Habakkuk 3:19 we read, The Sovereign LORD is my strength, he enables my feet to run like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Ephesians 3:16 tells us that God’s strength runs deep in us – I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
The Psalms are full of strength references. Here is just one – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1)
Just as you do not get physically fit by thinking about going to the gym, you also don’t gain God’s strength by just wishing for it. You must regularly and faithfully go to God’s “gym” to gain the strength you need. James 4:8 says this, Come near to God and he will come near to you.
So if you want God’s strength, then surrender to Him, ask Him for strength, spend time in His presence, and you will find the strength you need for every situation. We will end with these words, from Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
New Bern, North Carolina