By Jess Eischens, Communications/Marketing
I was recently processing 2020 and the best way I can describe it is that this past year, we’ve been building muscle.
If you work out, you know that building muscle is painful. Not just that, but strengthening what is weak can be excruciating.
We either need to build up what is weak or we need to re-train what hasn’t been used in the right way.
Either way, it’s painful because you have to break down what is weak and this takes time.
But this training in 2020 has been necessary for a strengthening within the body of Christ – it’s a strengthening of where we get our final say from…where we get our rest from…where we get our truth from.
Who’s opinion really matters?
We’ve been re-learning that God readily comes to our aid, even when it doesn’t feel like it. We’ve seen Him spring to response to strengthen us, give us what we need in that exact moment and walk through the fire with us.
Like Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego when they stood up to Nebuchadnezzar, God has been in the fire with us. (Daniel 3:16-28)
He’s let us walk through it so we’ll be purified and come out stronger in faith and ready to stand for him in anything…not worried about what others think, but courageous and bold witnesses of His love, justice and forgiveness.
We all know we’re not quite there yet, but if you’re like me, you can look back on 2020 and see how you’ve grown stronger this past year.
Hebrews 12 shares in detail what we’ve been going through, for our strengthening and our ultimate good and for His honor as pure vessels He can pour His Spirit into:
“As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds.
So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.
Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.
His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!
So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures.
After all, you have not yet reached the point of sweating blood in your opposition to sin. And have you forgotten his encouraging words spoken to you as his children?
He said, “My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when he has to correct you. For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child.”
Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children.
For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected?
We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship.
For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons.
And isn’t it true that we respect our earthly fathers even though they corrected and disciplined us?
Then we should demonstrate an even greater respect for God, our spiritual Father, as we submit to his life-giving discipline.
Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them.
But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness.
Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.
So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship.
And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!
In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace.
And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”
I could see all of that happening inside of me in 2020.
He corrected me.
He strengthened me.
I lifted up my tired hands in prayer and worship.
He made a way for me.
He proved Himself as my provider and loving father.
And in all of this that we walk through…God promises to be with us.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts, helping them all!”
And in one final Bible passage, consider what God did for Paul in 2 Timothy when everyone around him abandoned him:
“At first there was no one I could count on to faithfully stand with me—they all ran off and abandoned me—but don’t hold this against them. For in spite of this, my Lord himself stood with me, empowering me to complete my ministry of preaching to all the non-Jewish nations so they all could hear the message and be delivered from the mouth of the lion! And my Lord will continue to deliver me from every form of evil and give me life in his heavenly kingdom. May all the glory go to him alone for all the ages of eternity!”
This is what happens when we encounter a year like 2020.
We learn where we run to.
We learn who actually helps us.
We learn Who stands beside us always.
Like Paul and Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego, and the psalmist, I know I’m so grateful for this new strength and these new muscles.
Now it’s my turn to ask you:
– How did God strengthen your muscles in 2020?
– What were some struggles you experienced and in what ways did you see God provide for you this past year?
– What area of your life is stronger because you walked through the fire last year?
– Have you praised Him for walking with you this whole time?
I’m grateful for a strengthened faith.
I trust that He is working in the midst of the seeming chaos.
He’s really faithful to provide for our needs, stand with us in the flames, and protect and prosper us even when it seems like impossible odds.
He’s proven Himself so very trustworthy in this season.
Let’s continue to trust Him to strengthen us and walk beside us in this new year.
He is faithful!