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God Strengthens Us
Characteristics of God, God is a Warrior
At the end of the Self-Control study, we learned that one way we can stay motivated is to rely on God’s strength to help us keep going even when things are hard. Let’s look at the characteristic of God that refers to God strengthening us, his people. These verses from 2 Corinthians sum up this relationship perfectly:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In the relationship between us and God, we are the weak ones, and he is the strong one. The only way that we have any strength at all is to rely on God’s strength in us.
Strength as a Characteristic of God the Father
In order for God to impart strength to his people, he must first have strength himself. The Bible clearly establishes that God has strength in these verses:
1 Chronicles 29:12: Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Psalm 59:16: But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
This somewhat ties in with another characteristic of God, his omnipotence. God’s omnipotence, or his ultimate might and power, has some different connotations than what we see with God’s strength, although they are related. We’ll talk about God’s omnipotence in a different lesson. For now, let’s talk about some ways that God uses his strength.
God Uses His Strength to Give Us Strength
One of the primary ways that God uses his strength is to give us strength. This doesn’t always mean more muscle strength, or physical strength, although he does do that. Sometimes, this means emotional or spiritual strength as well. Let’s look at each of these.
Several verses indicate that God provides us with physical strength when we need it:
2 Samuel 22:33: It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
Psalm 68:35: You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
Isaiah 40:28-31: 28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
When we are weak or weary, the verses above indicate that we can rely on God to give us physical strength. But sometimes, it’s not the physical part of us that needs strength. Sometimes it’s the emotional or mental part of us that needs strength. Often, our emotional or mental strength gives out before our physical strength. When our heart or emotional state is weak, God provides emotional strength too:
Nehemiah 8:10: Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17: 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Not only does God give physical and emotional strength, he also provides spiritual strength. This is strength that we get from reading Scriptures and being in relationship with God.
1 Samuel 30:6: David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
Psalm 119:28: My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Daniel 10:19: “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3: But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
Spiritual strength helps revive and restore our spirits. It helps us fight Satan’s attacks in our lives.
God Uses His Strength to Sustain Us
In addition to providing us with strength, God uses his strength to sustain us. When I looked up “sustain” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, some of the definitions included “to give support or relief to, to support the weight of.” These definitions indicate not that God increases our strength but that he instead takes over the job of being our strength.
Think of this like the interaction between a father and child. The child wants to pick up a large rock, but the rock is too heavy for the child to lift. In this instance, the father cannot make the child’s muscles big enough to lift the rock on their own. Instead, the father lifts the rock for the child. The father is giving support to the child, doing the job for the child, or perhaps allowing the child to “help” lift the rock even though the father is doing most of the work.
This is how God often works with us. He does the heavy lifting while allowing us to use the remaining strength we have to accomplish his purposes. By using his strength to sustain us, we are able to keep moving forward and making progress.
Psalm 18:35: You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great.
Psalm 51:10-12: 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 146:9: The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Bible often uses the word “sustain” to show how God uses his strength to help us keep moving forward. A similar word it uses is “uphold,” which we will look at in the next section.
God Uses His Strength to Uphold Us
Similar to sustain, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary indicates that uphold means “to give support to.” However, in this instance, I think of someone who is injured being supported by someone. In our example for God sustaining us, God imparted strength that was over and above our normal strength. In the case of God upholding us, we had strength but lost it somehow, so God steps in to replace the strength that was lost.
Psalm 37:23-24: 23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 63:6-8: 6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 145:14: The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
Sometimes we don’t have the strength to do the job. Sometimes we’ve lost our strength for a job we used to do well. In either case, God is there to step in and fill the gap to provide strength for those who follow him.
God Uses His Strength to Defend Us
In our original overview of God’s characteristics, this characteristic of God Strengthens Us was categorized under the God is a Warrior group. One of the ways that God uses his strength is to defend us when we are in battle, just as a warrior would defend the helpless. Several verses support this idea:
Exodus 15:2: “The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Isaiah 12:2: Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
It’s interesting to me that God’s strength, his defense, and his salvation are all tied together. God uses his strength to defend us from the enemy and to save us from his attacks. We don’t have to be afraid of the enemy because we know that God is on our side fighting for us.
God Uses His Strength to Help Us
Finally, another way that God uses his strength is to help us. This could mean so many things, and it likely looks different for different people at different times. Here are some verses that provide evidence that God helps us:
Psalm 22:19: But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Psalm 28:7-8: 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
All of these ways that God uses his strength point to one thing—God gives strength in various ways to those who are helpless, to those who can’t complete the task on their own. At times, we all face this situation, some perhaps more than others. We feel helpless. We feel weary. We feel like we can’t go on. In those moments, when we are weak, that’s when God’s strength takes over.
How Does God’s Strength Affect My Life?
In the previous verses, we found that God uses his strength to help us in everyday situations. But the Bible also talks about specific reasons that God gives us strength. He has special tasks that he calls his people to do, and he will give us the strength we need for those tasks.
Task 1: Fight the Enemy
In this life, we will fight many battles. Sometimes, this will be real battle, such as a soldier at war. Other times, this will be a battle against the evil in this world, as we saw in the Armor of God series. God promises to provide strength for any battle he has called us to fight.
2 Samuel 22:40: You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
In this verse in 2 Samuel, David is fighting a physical enemy, Saul, who was trying to kill him. You may have a physical enemy, or you may have an emotional or spiritual enemy. Whoever your enemy is, if God has called you to fight the battle, he will arm you with strength for that battle.
Task 2: Proclaim the Good News
Another task that God calls all Christians to is proclaiming the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:17: But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.
In this verse in 2 Timothy, Paul was undergoing persecution because he was preaching the gospel. Whatever your circumstances, if you are following God and spreading the message of Jesus Christ, God will give you the strength to complete that task.
Task 3: Serve Others
In addition to proclaiming the gospel and fighting the enemy, God calls us to serve. We can serve God in many ways, one of which is serving others. God gives us strength for whatever form of service he has called us to.
1 Peter 4:11: If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
In response to God providing the strength for service, our job is to turn around and give glory back to God, knowing that anything we accomplished was not in our strength but in God’s strength.
Where do you feel you need the most strength in your life? Are you weary and in need of physical strength? Are you emotionally burdened and in need of emotional strength? Have you been fighting the enemy in your life for too long and need spiritual strength? Wherever you are feeling weak in your life, God is there to provide the strength you need to keep moving forward.
Each individual characteristic of God study will come with two resources: a word search just for fun (including an answer key), and a list of verses for if you want to investigate that individual characteristic of God more completely.
You can access these resources by clicking here: God Strengthens Us Resources