The Daily Strength of God
I close my eyes and see a child running around a playground.
He finds a mound of dirt and decides it’s the place he belongs, the tallest spot where he can overlook the others and plant his dominance. He jumps up, lifts his arms and shouts, “I am courageous, I am the king!”
I close my eyes and see a teenager driving up to her first soccer game. As she parks the car she starts to motivate herself. She starts to remember last season, the failures, the mistakes, and tells herself, “I am better. I am stronger. I am going to prove myself this year.”
I close my eyes and see a freshman in college preparing for her first presentation in business law. She’s looking at the book and screen and thinking to herself, “I am smart enough to do this. I have to win this project.”
I close my eyes and see myself. Three years ago, sitting in the fetal position by my closet, trying to remember what I did the night before, telling myself, “you are so far gone, you are so dirty, you are so lost.”
These scenarios. These events, circumstances, and very real aspects of life are all in desperate need of something. They all lack the foundation of something bigger than the world they are living in. They are all caught up in the material assurance of what surrounds them and the approval of their peers. They are all allowing themselves to be a victim to worldly measures.
You might be re-reading the events and wonder what I am referring to. You probably see the innocence within the first three people and think, what is possibly wrong with them?
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The danger is the same danger in the fact that we, as believers, way too often misinterpret the strength of God. We have taken verses like the above and transformed it into some miraculous physical strength to conquer, some crazy ability in a specific function (like a sport), some form of confidence in knowledge, and something you must earn.
I want to tackle this concept by looking at Daniel 6: The Lion’s Den in 4 parts:
Daniel 6:4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him
The lesson we learn from Daniel’s character specifically within this story is that he was not sinless, he was simply faithful. Meaning, he was a man of integrity and obedience. It was only through forceful circumstances that the officials could “complain.”
Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Remaining in faith and obedience to God our King, Daniel continued with His worship and daily devotion. He would not compromise or justify His following of the true King in order to submit to a worldly one.
Daniel 6:22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.
I can only imagine the peace Daniel had when thrown in to the den. The trust he had in God to deliver him from the lions because he knows he was faithful. Daniel knew the strength of God was bigger than the lion or the officials.
So, when we read strength verses like the Isaiah one I hope you can now see the danger. The strength of Daniel’s faith was not due to some crazy physical ability, nor was it something he had to earn or become worthy of, he did not defeat the lions through worldly strength- he was delivered from the lions by God’s strength alone. And that strength, is the same strength that lives in us, through God’s spirit.
It is the daily strength provided through Daniel’s faith in the God almighty that allowed him to day after day go and devote his time to prayer; to remain firm in his worship though the world around him was telling him otherwise; to remain fearless in the den of lions because He knew through God he could do anything, because it is God that makes it happen.
You see, we do not “gain” or “are given” God’s strength in the middle of circumstances or events. We already have it and must choose to lean on it. It is a daily strength of faith, not something you get when things get tough. It is not in mere moments of struggle or strife. Our strength is a constant, spiritual strength. A strength that comes with our faith in a God that can do everything and more. We literally do everything and can do everything because of Christ.
So, the danger in the little boy is the false cultural stance on physical ability. The danger in the teenager is the desire to prove oneself in skill. The danger in the freshman is the level of knowledge to win approval. And the danger in myself was thinking I was too far gone for renewal.
God’s strength is bigger than those circumstances.
His strength within us is the same strength that rose Jesus from the grave; the same strength that created the heavens and the earth; the same strength that cast out demons and performs miracles; and the same strength that makes us a new creation.