Strength seems to be a popular subject these days.  As I have conversations with friends and family, the issue of strength has come up in one form or another.  As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed, I see so many posts and quotes regarding strength.  With Memorial Day coming up, I believe that the topic of strength seems to be a suitable blog entry.

Memorial Day is a time where America remembers the brave people who provided the ultimate sacrifice so that the citizens may live freely.  I have the utmost respect for everyone who has served and is currently serving in all branches of the United States Military.  If you are reading this and you are a veteran or in active duty, thank you for your service.  (Toby Keith – American Soldier)

This particular entry widens the boundaries to the extent where every person is considered to be a soldier.  I was never in the military, and you may not have served in the military, but the fact is we are all soldiers of life.  We all have our own battles to fight.  They may not consist of fighting with guns or the latest weapon technologies against those who wish harm against our families and country, but our greatest battles are fought in our minds.  (Rachel Platten – Fight Song)

Soldiers in the military are trained to be strong mentally and physically.  The purpose is to make sure every person will be fit for battle and for the enemy not to find any weakness.  From the perspective of a regular individual, what are your enemies?  Addiction?  Anxiety?  Anger?  Depression?  Hopelessness?  Insecurity?  Loneliness?  Oppression?  From the perspective of a Christian, I guarantee you that the enemy knows every weakness you have and will use it in every opportunity that you provide.  That is why the Bible gives clear instructions:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

There are times when we have to act strong in front of others so that there is a sense of security and stability.  There are times when we need to just drop the act and just be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God.  Being able to discern on when and where these times take place is critical to keeping up with reality and being able to stay reasonable.  My suggestion is to be honest first with your relationship with God because if there is a problem with that relationship, then all the other issues will seem much more significant than they really are.  In our weakness, God is our strength; that requires us to have a close and personal relationship with Him so that we are better able to handle the challenges in this world.  (Mark Schultz – He Will Carry Me)

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, we read the following passage:  And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

What can we learn from this?  There will be storms in our lives that will try to break us in any possible way and those storms will succeed if we allow them to.  1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” After the fire, we will hear the voice.  The voice of hope.  The voice of joy.  The voice of love.  The voice of everlasting life.  Just as Elijah went out and stood at the entrance of the cave, we must go out and stand once more for another day of battle until Jesus returns to us or He calls us home.  At least once a day, find a quiet place and let your heart open up for Jesus to take up all the hurts and fill it in with His Spirit that consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Jeremy Camp – Christ in Me)

For those of you who have doubts or straight out do not believe in the Christian faith.  Let me tell you about my experience.  It was not my strength that had me function after I was informed that my mother had passed away.  It was not my strength that allowed me to sleep at night and get up every morning and return to my daily grind with my mother no longer around.  It was not my strength that allowed me to go to work just hours after receiving the news that my grandmother had passed away.  Unfortunately, not even a year went by before I lost two close family members that played significant roles in raising me to the man I am today.  It certainly is not my strength that is keeping me writing to this very day.  I may not be posting as many blog entries as I have before, but I continue to observe and note the everyday experiences that I have and witness to those around me. (Jeremy Camp – Same Power)