Originally published in The Catholic Times, June, 2016.
Variations of the word ‘strength’ appear hundreds of times in the bible. I am especially moved when I read Scripture or hear the word ‘strength’ mentioned during the readings at Mass. References to strength move me to go deeper into prayer and reflection.
Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and he helps me.
The type of strength that I teach at the gym is physical strength, which is fleeting. I know that the strength that matters is the strength we receive in our relationship with God. Allowing His strength, which is love, to fill us up and then flow out of us in service to others is what we are called to do as Christians.
How many times a day do we remind ourselves that God is our true strength and that we can rely on Him in everything? We may know intellectually that His strength is always there for us, but how often do we actually ask for it?
Sometimes it’s difficult to discern when we are relying on God’s strength, by cooperating with His grace, and when we are relying on our own strength. Since we are free to cooperate (or not) with God’s will, there are probably times when we miss the signs that point in the direction God desires for us. His generous love for us means that even in our missteps, He is still there offering us His strength and guidance.
References to God’s strength in Scripture sometimes sound like we are preparing for battle — which we are — the battle for souls, the battle against evil, the battle to stay on our daily walk with Him.
Psalm 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
St. Paul the Apostle gained his spiritual strength from God. Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.
St. Paul also reminds us that we need our brothers and sisters in Christ on this journey. For St. Paul, it was Sts. Timothy and Titus.
Who is it your life? Maybe this is a good time to reconnect and strengthen friendships with other Christians who rely on God’s strength in their daily lives so you can help each other.
In closing, I offer you St. Paul’s encouraging words:
1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.