I recently purchased a few bracelets with this phrase on them, “Unexpected Strength”. I also purchased me a t-shirt with it embroidered on it. When it came in yesterday, I was excited about it. But then I could not get the phrase out of my mind.
Unexpected Strength. Eleven years ago(death of parents, for those that do not know), I heard phrases like “You are a strong woman” or “I could not handle this kind of loss.” I also heard “You are stronger than you think.” Well, eleven years ago I had a community of women who surrounded me, who would not let me just wallow in my grief. During that time, I found a smaller group within a larger group of women who met on Tuesday nights. We studied God’s word. Each of us took turns teaching. Some of us were better teachers than others (mainly me, I was not very good). But the fellowship that was created around God’s word was stunning.
Unexpected Strength. God centered lives have a strength like none other. But is it really unexpected? Luke 1:37 says “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then we have Philippians 4:13 that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So, I ask the question again, is it really unexpected strength?
Yes, but no also. Yes, it is unexpected strength to us. You see, our views of ourselves range from “I am GREAT” to “I am nothing”. But God’s view of us is so different. I had someone say to me eleven years ago, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” That is ridiculous! And what a way to minimize God’s power, abilities and compassion! God gives us plenty more than we can handle, He gives us the strength to handle it!
So, yes without God we cannot handle the tough situations in life. If we try, we may handle it but not with God’s grace. My favorite verse comes to mind every time I try to handle something big without Him involved. Exodus 16:2 “And there in the desert they all grumbled against Moses and Aaron.” And they grumbled. We see the picture as a whole, they did not. They had just had their lives turned upside down, found themselves wandering in the desert without provisions. They focused on their problems, so they grumbled. They failed to lift their eyes up to see the cloud in front of them or the flame at night. Psalm 106:25 says “But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.”
Unexpected Strength. No, not when God is your focus. I stood in faith during one of the hardest times of my life. I turned to God for answers, He gave me peace. When I thought I needed to end my life, He gave me hope. When I felt alone, He gave me a community of strong women that I can still call on to this day (and do).
Unexpected Strength? My answer is simple. We are always surprised when God does something in our lives so big that it can only have come from Him. Why? Because we measure God by human standards, not God’s standards. Two more verses come to mind. 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” And Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understand.” God sees the past, future and the present. He sees hidden truths that no one else sees, they are hidden in your heart. God understands His plans because He understands our future. So unexpected strength? Not really when God is within.
Sometimes we need a reminder that we have strength that comes from God, even if it surprises us.