An Essay by Jackie Houchin
WordPress has recently introduced the Monthly #WordPrompt feature. For May the #WordPrompt is STRONG. Bloggers are to use that prompt as a starting point for whatever they create, be it writing, art, photography, etc. to publish a new post.
What do you think of when you hear the word STRONG?
A lot of things come to my mind. There are strong athletes, strong odors, strong medicine, strong coffee, and strong language. These evoke admiration, repugnance, gratitude, delight, caution or distaste.
There are physical, mental, and spiritual strengths. These have their own meanings and values.
I’m 77 and I try to keep myself strong physically. I have a regular strength trainer and work out weekly with Nautilus machines. I walk straight, can lift/carry things other women my age can’t, and can ascend and descend stairs like someone with knees that don’t need replaced.
Of course, now…THIS will change for the next 4-6 weeks as I recover from unexpected surgery to remove my appendix!
While in the hospital the doctors and nurses often asked me, “From 1-10, how strong is your pain?” The previous night it was an agonizing, “Lord! Please let me die! #10”. After an IV of morphine, it was a more tolerable “I’m pretty good, I think. #4.” After surgery, I gave them a confident, “Hardly any. Maybe a half.”
I read a lot, write, and teach weekly Bible lessons to a dozen sharp 4th, 5th, and 6th grade kids. It keeps my mind active and inquisitive. But this could also change despite my efforts. I misspeak words occasionally, forget where I leave objects (“WHERE IS MY PHONE??”), and can’t remember names that I KNOW I know.
For me, however, the most valuable and durable strength to have is spiritual strength and confidence. Assurance. And no amount of weight training or crossword puzzles can give me that. It comes from reading and feasting on God’s Word, the Bible. It comes from worshiping and fellowshipping in prayer with the Author. It comes by trusting and obeying His Word.
When I do, God gives me the strength I need to face ANY situation, however dire, tempting, confusing, or scary.
Like going “under the knife. I remember when the CT scan results came in and affirmed that I had appendicitis and would need surgery right away I began shaking.
“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.”
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
I stopped shaking and my hands and shoulders, which had become clenched, relaxed. I looked up and actually smiled. “Lord, I could be meeting You in person tonight.” Wow, what a glorious thought!
“The JOY of the Lord is my strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10, ESV
“Behold, God is my salvation:
I will trust and will not be afraid;
for the LORD God is my strength and my song;
and He has become my salvation.”
Isaiah 12:2, ESV
“I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13, ESV
The surgery went quickly and well (they told me). It was laparoscopic, so only 3 small incisions and no stitches or clamps. Just…. glue? I am very grateful and free of agony. I have some healing to do and cautions to be aware of, but pain and fear no longer have me by the throat.
“And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace,
who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ,
will Himself restore, confirm,
STRENGTHEN, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:10 ESV
“The LORD is my STRENGTH and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.”
Exodus 15:2 ESV
This is the only way “I” want to be STRONG.