2022 Men’s Devotional • Day 17
Week 3 • Day 17

Strength


By
  • Abel Serna

Strength

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 1:1-3

trength. As men, we’re so often defined by it, and we define each other by it. Why is this? Strong men go to war and defeat their enemy, yet they struggle to live a peaceful, civilian life. Strong men have built empires, ruled legions of strong men, and yet have fallen to addiction or the temptation of beautiful, yet frail, women. It’s not fair to say that a decorated soldier fell short because he could not thrive in peace. We argue that it was a moment of weakness that took them out. So, if just a moment of weakness can defeat the strongest of men, why do we place so much value on strength?

Weakness is the opposite of strength, and yet in one of the Apostle Paul’s most revealing prayers, the Lord teaches us that “power is perfected in weakness” in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul described having a thorn in his flesh, and he begged the Lord to remove it on three separate occasions, but the Lord’s response remained the same. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Rather than relieving Paul by removing that which weakened him, God promised Paul that he would never lack sufficient grace.

Paul was smart enough not to question God, but his response was surprising. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, he writes, “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” One could argue that the Lord will give us strength in times of weakness, but not according to Paul. He does not just say when I am weak, the Lord gives me strength. He says that when I am weak, then I am strong. The strength Paul is referring to here is divine strength. So why is it so difficult for us to achieve? Why do strong-faithed men also have moments of weakness that take them out? I believe the struggles, pain, and hurt are the moments of weakness that allow us to draw closer to the Lord.

Several years ago, I got laid off from work leading to a series of downhill events. For six months, I struggled to find a job, and when I found one, it didn’t pay enough to keep us afloat. We used up all of our savings, maxed out all of our credit cards, and even started to borrow our retirement funds. I felt like a failure. For years, I couldn’t catch a break, and I struggled to find a reason to be strong. Due to stress, I developed an autoimmune disorder, which led to more problems. I was broke, sick, and depressed. I was vulnerable and weak. I can’t pinpoint when the next chapter started, there was no “aha” moment, and the Lord didn’t speak to me in a dream. It was not a friend’s encouraging word that turned the page, although several friends were there by my side. When I had nowhere else to go, I could go to the Lord. Psalm 91 describes security found in the shadow of the Almighty. During that long and dark chapter in my life, I learned that what I needed most was to be close to the Lord.

When I was young and idealistic, I put all my effort and strength into living out the first part of this psalm. I was determined to never walk in sin. But as I got older and began to experience moments of weakness, I found myself getting advice from the “counsel of the wicked” by walking in the same “path of sinners” and sitting at the table of scoffers. The idealism faded, and my belief about living a faithful life to the Lord promised in Psalm 1 felt out of reach.

What I failed to see in my youth was that the only way to live out the first part of Psalm 1 was to focus on the second part, which was to delight in the law of the Lord. Doing so is likened to a tree planted by streams of water. Only a tree next to streams of water will never wither. When seasons change, the tree does not try to stand taller but instead pushes its roots deeper and closer to the source. The result of doing so makes it stronger.

This is the sufficient grace the Lord was referring to when responding to Paul. We are often discouraged by the hurts of life, and we encourage each other with phrases like, “Hang in there,” “Don’t give up,” and “Be strong.” But when push comes to shove, we’re not strong enough. I encourage you to draw closer to the source of grace. Dig your roots deeper into the water. Be encouraged that trials, pains, failures, hurts, and weaknesses are all opportunities to lean into His grace. And like a tree planted near streams of water, your reliance on His grace will empower you to stand firm in His strength.


Author Bio

Abel Serna

Abel Serna serves as a Worship Leader in Day One and is passionate about leading others to Christ through creative arts. He currently works as a Project Implementation Manager for a collateral protection insurance company. Married for 14 years, Abel and his wife, Tasha, have one little girl named Katalina. He spends most of his free time playing with her.


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