Many are focusing on health and fitness. Billions are spent each year to strengthen bodies and smooth out wrinkles. Diet and exercise are important but what about the inner man? The place where we draw strength to face the storms of life is often neglected. Is it any wonder that the storms of life have such a devastating impact? A man can bench press 500 lbs but let the doctor tell him he has cancer and he’ll collapse under the weight of his diagnosis. How can a man so strong in one area of his life be so weak in another? His efforts to maintain himself were unbalanced. He focused only on the physical and material. When he turned to the inner man for strength he found him weak and suffering from a lifetime of neglect. I believe that the inner man must come first in all we do. By this I mean that we should develop the spiritual side by putting Christ first. Let him strengthen our faith and give us a firm foundation on which to stand.
True strength is measured by how much we can take emotionally not physically. Can we handle layoffs, the loss of loved ones and life threatening diseases and still praise God? We all face good times and bad. We all face sickness and loss. Yet many wait ’til storms hit to find out if their spiritual foundation is strong. It’s during the downtimes that we find out just how much weight the inner man can handle. Knowledge of this fact is why you’ll find prayer warriors on their knees during good times and bad. It’s why you see so many Christians getting up in the early morning hours to study the Word of God. They are strengthening the inner man and getting him ready to fight if necessary to hold onto their faith. For they know they can face any storm that comes their way through faith. If an unexpected storm hits you’ll find them not only standing but reaching out to strengthen and comfort those around them.
My grandmother lived this way. She got up early for decades to read the Word of God and sleep never ceased to find her without a prayer on her lips. When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer she sat by his bedside and watched as the disease slowly took her best friend, the father of her four children and life partner for over 50 years away. I travelled home from Chicago to comfort her. Unfortunately, my inner woman was not as strong as I thought her to be for the pain of this devastating loss quickly erased all my good intentions. My grandmother ended up comforting me instead. I asked her how she could be so strong. I will never forget what she said to me, “I loved your Papa very much but my hope was never in him. My hope is in Jesus Christ alone.” What an example she set for me. What an example Jesus set for us all.
When devastating personal storms break loose in our lives how do we find the strength to stand? First, we must ultimately know where our strength comes from. It comes from our belief in Jesus Christ. Our hope must remain firmly planted in Him. We are to live for him and no one else.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Secondly, we must work daily to strengthen ourselves by studying the Word of God. The Christian life cannot be lived separate and apart from it. No one is exempt from having to face personal storms. Thus the goal when we find ourselves in the midst of them can only be to grow, set a good example for others and let the winds drive us closer to God. Storms are painful ‘yes’ but they are also opportunities to grow in our faith.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Just as the outer man gains muscle mass by exercising daily the inner man is strengthened by study and prayer. By devoting ourselves first and foremost to Christ we become hardwired in our beliefs and are able to say, like Job, ‘yet though he slay me I still praise him’. An avid reader of the Word of God has built his house on the rock. His strength is not in his flesh, friends, family, check book or career. His hope is in Christ alone. A devout believer isn’t strong because he hasn’t faced pain, loss and suffering but quite the opposite. Talk to many followers of Christ and you’ll find that the majority of them have faced every trial imaginable and have learned through pain and suffering that Christ truly will carry us through the dark days.
Storms come to test our faith thus they should be met with the Word of God never doubt, worry or fear. For such emotions tear at the inner man and weaken him. They will rip him to shreds if not conquered by the promises of God. These promises are not based on emotions but on true knowledge. We must know God loves us. We must know he is real. And even when he is silent we must know he has heard our prayers and is working things out for our good.
How does one become so convinced and certain? By capturing every thought and making sure it is to the glory of the Lord. We must control our minds and not let them control us. Refuse to let your emotions take over. When doubt, worry and fear arise cast them out and dig into the Word of God. Make up your mind that no matter what happens you are going to BELIEVE. End of story. There are no other options. We must be consistent in our faith because conquering the storms of life isn’t about feelings. It’s not about emotion. It’s about knowledge. When the storm is raging we must stand firm in the knowledge that God is a provider and a way maker.
Choose to trust God and do not go running back to an old way of life which never worked in the first place. Go to Psalms and remind yourself of his promises. Resolve that you will never again act out of fear. I often tell God, “If you want me to do something about this you are going to have to show me what to do and give me the strength to do it because my strength comes from you and my steps are ordered by you. I BELIEVE!!!” It takes a lot of inner strength to let go and give the battle to God. To trust him. To slay fear, worry, anxiety and depression which ride in on the winds of life’s storms. Thus, our primary goal must be to strengthen the inner man. The stronger we become in our spirit the more we are able to ‘be still and know that he is God’.
It takes enormous strength to STAND when all hell is breaking loose in your life. Not to turn back to our old ways, not to run to a friend or family member for advice, not to doubt God’s existence and abandon him or try to work it out in our own strength. But, to stand in prayer, waiting and listening for his guidance. Now, it’s time for the inner man to bench that 500 lbs. If he has been preparing daily and studying the Word of God he’s ready. Become proactive in storm survival. We are reminded each time we look in the mirror of our outer needs. Let the events of life and the way you respond to them serve as a mirror too. Our ability to control our emotions and trust God is a reflection of the condition of the inner man. Are you greeting life’s storms with fear or faith? The answer to this question will determine how much weight and pressure your inner man is able to handle. Fear will always knock on the door first when trials come. Make sure your faith your inner man is strong enough to take him out. Commit yourself to a daily Bible and prayer workout regime.
2 Timothy 7
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
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