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Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
—Angela Duckworth 

Resilience is one of those qualities in life I’ve always admired. I remember growing up watching the 49ers play football. The quarterback–perhaps the worlds greatest–Joe Montana made me a believer that no matter how bad it looked, they were going to pull out a win. I remember coming to believe that Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, and the rest of the team were simply invincible. 

Time has corrected my limited perspective to realize that what they exhibited in their historic Super Bowl runs was grit. They had the ability to overcome steep odds, challenges, and setbacks because they never gave up. They steadily overcame whatever deficit they were facing and calmly snatched a win from the jaws of defeat. 

Though it is a different sport, I think we’re in the midst of something equally as special with our Golden State Warriors. These guys have had a multitude of setbacks, and yet, they’re in their fifth consecutive Final’s trip. 

Anyway, this isn’t a sports column. It’s a blog, so why am I sharing this? 

We’ve been exploring the power of encouraging others this month, but we can’t overlook the importance of encouraging ourselves.

So often, we long for people to be there for us. To strengthen us and speak life into us when we feel down, defeated, or unable to rise to the occasion. Though we’re in a community of Jesus followers, sometimes, we won’t receive the words we need from others.

So, what do we do then? 

Thankfully, if we find ourselves in such a situation, we’re not alone.

David was a man who was intimately acquainted with the pain of isolation and discouragement. Before he was the King of Israel, he was the fugitive of Judah. It wasn’t enough that King Saul was hunting him like an animal, he was also facing a mutiny from his men who personally held him responsible for the abduction of their wives and kids.
It was not a good day for David. One of these difficulties would be enough for a nervous breakdown. However, in his anxiety, David did something different. 

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
1 Samuel 30:6 

But how did he do it?

Call on God
As a writer of many of the psalms, David showed us what his calls to God sounded like. My favorite is his opening verse in Psalm 16. “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” Simple and to the point. You can yell this out or whisper it under your breathe, just make sure to call on God. 

Rehearse the Promises of God
Rehearsing His promises gives us another way of anchoring ourselves in stormy seasons.

Here are a few promises worth internalizing: 
* He promises to never leave nor forsake us. Hebrews 13:5
* All things work together for our benefit in Christ. Romans 8:28
* Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:31-39 
* Greater is He who dwells within us than He who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

These and other promises in the Bible have the power to alter our internal environment, even if our external situation doesn’t change. 

Meditate on His Word
This presupposes that we are practicing a couple things in times of peace. It assumes we are growing in the discipline of meditating on and memorizing Scripture.

To meditate is to chew on a verse or a passage for an extended period of time. The common image given is that of a dog chewing on a bone until all the nutrients are stripped.

Perhaps one small step we can take is to choose a verse for our particular season and start meditating on it. Over time, we will find it embedded into our heart, and when we most need it, our memory will be able to call upon it to strengthen us. 


Sphere of Control vs. Sphere of Concern
Jesus said that we should not borrow troubles from tomorrow because sufficient are the problems of today (Matthew 6:34). In simple terms, Jesus was highlighting the principle of focusing on what we can control, rather than what concerns us. 

When feeling particularly overwhelmed, I like to draw two circles on a sheet of paper. One smaller in the center and a larger around it. I write out the things I can control in the smaller circle and the things that concern me in the larger one. Once I have a clearer grasp over that which I can impact, my anxiety reduces substantially and by God’s grace, I’m empowered to move forward. 

If you don’t need to strengthen yourself in the Lord today, I encourage you to prepare for the day you do. For when that day comes, we will discover that God is an ever-present help in the day of trouble… if we learn how to strengthen ourselves in Him. 

Lastly, if there’s something you’d like prayer for, please know that we have a team of devoted people praying for the needs of our church. Email them at prayer@cornerstonesf.org.