Category Archives: finding strength

Her Children Rise Up

A woman of valor, who can find?…Her children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:10, 28 JPS).

The Proverbs 31 “woman of valor” must have been something of a warrior. After all, the Hebrew term chayil, translated “valor,” is a military term. When I asked my husband how he saw me as a fighter he didn’t hesitate.  “You have fought hard for our children’s dreams,” he said.

It’s true. I’ve fought harder to help our kids reach their dreams than I ever fought for my own. Not that I didn’t love setting goals and working hard to reach my dreams. I still do. But this quote says it best: “Reaching your own dreams is fulfilling—helping someone else reach their dreams is sublime.” And when that “someone else” happens to be your own children, it’s joy on steroids.

I wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:10-31 JPS) discovered this same joy in seeing her children reach their dreams? We’re told, “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). The Hebrew word translated “rise up” is very strong. It means, “to accomplish, to endure, to build or establish, to strengthen, to succeed.”

I’d like to think her children were now grown, happy, and fulfilled. They had reached their dreams, in part, because of their mother’s impact. She had taught them. Nurtured, clothed, and cared for them. Modeled a life of giving to the poor. She displayed joy, faithfulness, and laughter. Perhaps they saw their mom in prayer, seeking the Lord and fighting for their dreams.

Nothing makes me happier than when my children “rise up” and succeed.  If the Proverbs 31 woman of valor poured life into her children, then I can imagine her exhilaration as she watched them flourish.

To love our own children, and other children who are like our own, calls for self-sacrifice. But we may just discover that loving others more than we love ourselves can be oddly liberating.  Makes us less self-centered. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of freedom of all.

Adapted from: Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).


Mighty Man of Valor

Valor comes in all kinds of packages. Perhaps you or someone you love is in the military—bravely guarding our freedom. Or maybe you’re a first responder. Or a caregiver holding the hands of the dying. You might be quietly and faithfully caring for your children—raising up the next generation. Or nursing your spouse through a long illness. People show courage in different ways.

Perhaps you don’t feel strong enough or brave enough to do what’s required of you. If so, you’re in good company. Some of God’s most courageous men and women started their journey in weakness. But God’s power transformed them into mighty men and women of valor.

Take Gideon. He was the youngest son in a family and tribe that were the weakest in Israel. The people had fallen into great evil, so the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. “But Israel grew weak and cried out to the Lord” (Judges 6:11 CEB).

So the Lord sent His angel to Gideon with a message: “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). To which Gideon said something like, “Who me? I’m just a frightened nobody.” “Mighty man of valor” was a term that described warriors. Heroes. Champions.  Not a scared young man from the weakest tribe in a beaten down nation. The word translated “valor” is chayil, the very same word that describes the “woman of valor” in Proverbs 31.

God must have seen something special in Gideon and said to him: “You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?” The Lord promised, “Because I’m with you, you’ll defeat the Midianites as if they were just one person” (Judges 6:14-16 CEB).  And that’s just what happened. It took some persuading, but Gideon took courageous action to save his nation. He became a new man in the process. A man sold out to God. A mighty man of valor.

Friend, God sees within you the strength and courage He put there—even if you’re anxious and full of fear. Even if your family is a mess. He loves us when we’re weak; but He delights in making us strong. Men and women of valor.

We may feel exhausted, rejected, ignored, or afraid.  If so, His words to us are His words to Gideon: “Because I am with you, you will defeat your enemies. Enemies like job loss, depression, anxiety, marriage problems, a rebellious child, the inability to have a child, or loneliness. Maybe you struggle with fear like Gideon did.

God is whispering to you right at this moment: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior, man or woman of valor. And because I am with you, you will have strength to prevail!”


Endure with Joy

I’ve long been inspired by the vibrant faith of believers in China’s underground church. No one is sure, but some think there may be over 60 million believers in these secret house churches. Astounding when you consider all the forces over the years that have tried to stamp out the Gospel in China!

Chinese believers are known for their steadfast and joyful faith in the face of intense persecution. A man who had just returned from visiting members of an underground church was asked how the believers were able to cope with the continued trials.

“These brothers and sisters know this is not the end of the story,” he explained.  “They EXPECT God’s glory to come at the end of their trial.  They believe the trial will end. And they expect to be victorious.”

Are you wrestling with a tough problem? Maybe it feels like your trial will never end. Perhaps we don’t suffer the same kind of intense persecution as Chinese believers, but we fight the same devil. James urges us to “resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7).

Peter also challenges us to join the “resistance:” Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8).

We can draw strength from the example of Chinese believers. They remind us that our trial “is not the end of the story.” They inspire us to “expect God’s glory.”

We strengthen our own faith when we encourage each other to stand “firm in the faith.” Joy in our journey comes as we team up with other believers.

The Christian life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.  So daily, let’s ask the Lord to help us find joy while we endure!


Grudge Not!

I can’t seem to get away with gossip. What I mean is that I usually get caught red-handed, or maybe I should say foot-in-mouth. Here’s how it happens. I complain about someone—in confidence to another friend—only to turn around and discover that the person about whom I’m speaking is right behind me! Or within earshot. Now the person didn’t necessarily hear what I said about them. But I’m ashamed and convicted, nevertheless. Busted, as my kids used to say!

I remember once in junior high school that I casually pointed out to my friend that a rather awkward boy in our class “ran kinda funny” on the playground. I turned around and gasped as I noticed that same boy had changed seats and was sitting right behind me! Did he overhear my thoughtless comment? I was never quite sure, but I felt terrible. The thought still makes my face flush, all these years later.

This kind of thing has happened often enough that I’m now very watchful about my words. It’s as though the Lord just won’t let me get away with speaking badly about someone. Perhaps it’s because He knows that words can be so destructive. Not just to the hearer, but also to the speaker.

The Bible spells it out plainly: “Do not complain against one another, believers, so that you will not be judged [for it]. Look! The Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9 AMP).

The word translated as “complain” is stenazo. It means: “to groan, sigh, to give vent to critical or censorious feelings. To call attention to someone’s flaws.”  Other versions use words like grumble, murmur, or groan. I especially like the way this rather antiquated translation puts it: Grudge not, brethren, one against another, that you may not be judged. Behold the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:9 DRA).

My paraphrase? “Grudge not…so that you are not judged!” It’s not just our words that God is warning us about. It’s also the thoughts behind those words.  As believers, we’re on the same side in a war against our enemy, the devil, and his minions.  Grumbling about one another not only hurts feelings, but it breaks our unity.

In 21 Days of Strength, we learned the importance of “sticking together” if we want to be strong—especially in battle. Breaking faith with our fellow believers leaves us especially vulnerable to the enemy. Let’s remember, the word for devil is diabalos, “the divider.” His specialty is strife. As I heard the head of a large organization once say, “I have only one immediate firing offense—stirring up strife.”

Maybe I stepped on your toes today. I sure came down hard on my own. Let’s soberly reflect on the warning in God’s Word: “Grudge not…that you may not be judged.” Like I’ve learned the hard way: The judge might be standing at the door!


The Power of Love-Day 21

Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of 21 Days of Strength. I hope you’ve found a few strategies that will help you strengthen yourself in the Lord. Remember. God is near to the broken hearted.  He loves us when we’re weak.  But He delights in making us strong.

We’ve talked about the importance of abiding in Christ, of spending time alone with God in His Word and prayer. Jesus Himself reminds us to make time to “go to our room and shut the door and pray to our Father in secret.” If we want to remain strong in the fight of faith, it’s important to stick together with our fellow believers, to de-clutter the sin that weighs us down, to obey God’s calling, and to give our lives away to others.

Growing strong in the Lord occurs as we fervently seek Him day in and day out. But even when we grow weary and weak, we know that God is ready and waiting to give us His strength. It’s His character and His very nature to give out of His own storehouse of strength and power to His children. The Apostle Paul puts it this way as he pours out his heart in prayer for all believers, including you and me:

“I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:14-16).

Did you catch that? Strength comes in the form of power through the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We grow strong so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. Amazing. No wonder God wants to make us strong!

The next verses give more reasons to grow strong in the Lord: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Strength from the Holy Spirit helps to ground us….to root and establish us in love.  Together with other believers, united by love,  we’re enabled to grasp this enormous love of Christ.  A love that’s beyond comprehension.  A love that fills us with the “fullness of God.”  A love that gives strength and power!

Paul attempts to describe this wonderful love-power in his final benediction.  May this promise from the Word of God send us back out into our hurting and broken world, armed with unshakeable strength and wrapped in love:  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” ( Ephesians 3:20).  -Amen!