Life has certainly been a bit tumultuous over the past couple of weeks. Although there has not really been any resolution or solution to the specific struggles I’m facing, I think things have calmed down enough so that I can start to catch my breath again.
This weekend, I was playing the piano and singing (making a joyful noise, that is; someone once told me I sing like a piano player, so there you have it) this song by Tim Blomdahl:
It is good for me to draw near unto God;
Lord I put my trust in Thee,
that I may declare all Thy works, O my God,
Lord, I put my trust in Thee.
My flesh and my heart, they fail me,
but God is the strength of my life.
You are my portion both now and evermore,
there is none that I desire but Thee.
What struck me (as it has before when I’ve read Psalm 73, on which this song is based) is the contradiction I’d be accused of if I had said this on my own, instead of quoting Scripture. Without a doubt, I’d be asked: “How can your flesh and heart fail you, if God is the strength of your life?” I’ve heard the argument repeatedly, that if I keep trusting God, He’ll keep me strong. So, I should stop worrying about my failing strength and energy and just trust God. He’s going to carry you. He’s going to sustain you. He’ll keep you going. Your strength can’t fail, because God is your strength.
What I’ve experienced is that my flesh and heart do fail me. And I do not have a security of, “well, you’ll get this weak, but no weaker”. My spirit does grow weak. And it could get weaker. But, nothing about that negates that God is the strength of my life. This place of weakness of my body, weakness of my mind, weakness of my spirit, right here, in the middle of that broken and weak place, God is the strength of my life.
It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t even look logical. God’s strength doesn’t make me strong like, “Watch out, here I come, re-energized and unstoppable, like the Energizer Bunny. God’s gotten a hold of me and given me a dose of His strength and now, watch out, here I come, the new and improved, strong version of me.”
It’s more like, in my broken, crumbled, weak and very exhausted state, God is here. God is the strength of my life. It is good for me to be near Him. I am safe. I am okay. My life and circumstances may be crumbling. I may feel very unprotected and insecure compared to others who are thriving all around, with good jobs, a house they own, and the like. I have no idea what my future holds. Or how I’ll survive it financially, emotionally, practically. But, nothing and no one can destroy the reality that God remains the strength of my life.
Oh the paradox of life with God. I can be weak and stay weak, and yet know the strength of God in my life. I can be physically deformed and yet reflect the glory of God in radiant and beautiful ways. You can even kill my body, but you can’t destroy me.
When I step back and look at extreme paradoxes like this in the Kingdom of God, I am reminded again of how my own weakness and struggling to keep going isn’t the point. It’s not a pass or fail thing, like I have to get fixed and be thriving or else. The point is the joy and security of knowing that no matter how much harder things get, no matter how weak I am or how long I stay weak and tired, that God remains the strength of my heart!
That truly is a joy, a strength and a deep security that I have in the middle of all of this. My emotions flail all over the place (I could never be the poster child for a “stable Christian”! Some days my burdens seem so heavy and there are so many uncertainties, I don’t know what is the next step. I can be shaking all over–in anger, confusion and fear. BUT GOD is the strength of my heart.
I can’t explain theologically all the significance and innuendos of Psalm 73. But, what I do know is this: I have repeatedly been in situations where I have cried out with the words of Asaph (well, the words of Asaph in the not very literary, but still-touches-me-deeply New Living Translation in English….):
But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud…
Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong? All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.
If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand…..(Been there, done that, tried the understanding route, more than once….)
Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked.
Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had seen. I was so foolish and ignorant–I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
YET I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand.
You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail,
and my spirit may grow weak,
BUT GOD remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
But those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you.
But as for me, how good it is to be near God! [I saw another translation that said, “The nearness of God is my good” Isn’t that beautiful?!]
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
So, here I am, weak, but with God as the strength of my life. Not quite sure how all of that works, but glad, that even though I don’t understand it, I am experiencing the security and strength of walking with God, even when outwardly there are days I feel like I’m barely coping. I am weak, BUT GOD remains the strength of my heart.