Devotionals & ArticlesPromises Quiet Time Series

Day 3: “I Will Give You Strength”

By Nora Hardy 

Pioneer Valley Church of Christ 

THE FEAR: 

“I don’t have what it takes to do what I need to do today.” 

THE PROMISE: 

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” 

Mark 9:23

 “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 

THE PERSONAL: 

Although I may not always want to admit it, fear and anxiety are very real struggles in my life.  They are words that I do not like because, for me, they connote weakness or incompetence. I  do not want to be weak. I want to be able to do things well. I want to be competent. In other  words, I do not want to appear to be incapable or limited. I want to think that fear and anxiety  are not as real as they actually are for me; however, I daily experience undeniable reminders of  their reality in my life. 

My greatest fear is that, at my present age of 66 years, I am not equipped to function and  survive in this world. I fear that I cannot manage successfully all of the responsibilities that I  have in balancing home, family and ministry. Retirement from a responsible social service  position of 32 years in which I was competent, and in which I was viewed as competent, contributes to my fear. I feel that I have relinquished the one area of my life in which I had  demonstrated the ability to function well. The pandemic has greatly intensified my anxiety  about being ill-equipped to live in this world in that it highlights and necessitates the need for  technological skills that I lack, that I fail to enjoy, and that are challenging for me to learn. I  frequently feel extremely overwhelmed by technology. It invades so many aspects of life, rendering my participation in the activities of life and ministry increasingly difficult for me.  Even volunteering for Hope, in an attempt to do something meaningful to help others, has  become for me a technical challenge. This challenge has created anxiety and therefore has diminished the joy of volunteering and helping others. 

Through His word and through recollection of past positive experiences when God has worked  in my life, God assures me and reminds me that He will give me the strength that I need to live  in this world. Philippians 4:13 tells me that “I can do all this through Him who gives me  strength.” Philippians 4:6 further instructs me. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in  every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And  the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in  Christ Jesus.” 1 Peter 5:7 urges me to “cast all (my) anxiety on Him because he cares for (me).”  Romans 8:28 assures me that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who 

have been called according to his purpose.” In Mark 9:23, Jesus says “Everything is possible for  one who believes.” The father in this same passage exclaims “I do believe; help me overcome  my unbelief!” Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, talks about the thorn in his flesh and the fact that  his weakness provided opportunity for God’s power to be manifest in his life. When Paul  pleaded with God to take the thorn away from him, God said to him “My grace is sufficient for  you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responds, “Therefore I will boast all the  more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” James 2:17 and 24 highlight the need for faith and deeds. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied  by action, is dead…You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by  faith alone.” Finally, Matthew 6:25-33 states “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your  life…but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as  well.” 

God’s promise that He will give me strength, and the various scriptures cited that support this  promise are truths that encourage me to face my anxiety about living in this world. My specific and unique situation is such that my waking moments each day are intensely fearful and  anxiety-ridden, at times to the extent of panic. I barely open my eyes, and thoughts of the day  at hand, particularly challenging situations, flood my brain. The thoughts entail household  chores that need to be done, meals that need to be prepared, various small group issues, Bible  studies, the needs of individuals in my ministry, family needs, challenging situations that exist,  challenging conversations that are pending, daily activities, etc. All of this occurs when I am  barely awake, when I am weak and vulnerable by virtue of not being fully oriented to  wakefulness. The thoughts are realistic and accurate. In and of themselves, they are not  exaggerated; however, the intensity of so many thoughts coalescing in my brain at one time is  overwhelming and renders me feeling panicked, unable to face life or the day at hand, and  certainly not desirous of facing the day. In terror, at times I feel that I want to run away and  escape this life. Like Paul, I have asked God to take this thorn away, but he has not done so.  This weakness, this “thorn” forces me to rely on God and his strength when I lack the strength,  and, at times, the desire to get up and put my feet on the floor. As I slowly face the fear and  anxiety, I think of God. I remember Paul. I try to cast this anxiety onto God, remembering that  he cares for me. I turn my individual worries into prayer. I set my heart on seeking first the  kingdom. Like the father in Mark 9, I pray to overcome any unbelief that I may experience. I  remember that faith requires deeds, action, the most basic of which is to take that first step to  get out of bed, to begin the day, to put one foot in front of the other. The challenge to get up  and the action of doing so is the most difficult step to take when my mind is invaded by these  thoughts, but, at the same time, it is the most helpful step. As I do so, as I face the anxiety, the  thoughts begin to fall into place, to dissipate, and God enables me to face this life that I feel so  unequipped to live. In the midst of the internal onslaught of thoughts, I must remind myself  that God has been my strength and has enabled me to face the previous days, remembering  that this day is not a new or novel experience for me. I also recognize, gratefully, the fact that  God meets my needs. He has provided me with a husband who sympathizes with me in my  anxiety and who provides technical support to me when I am overwhelmed with technology.

THE PRACTICAL: 

This is not simply an autobiographical account. It is intended to be used for a quiet time. My  hope is that my personal expression of my fears and the ways in which I address these fears will  help you to cope with your particular situation. Our experiences are unique, but fear is an  emotion that we all feel to varying degrees. I have detailed my anxiety and God’s strength  being manifested through my weakness. Do you experience fear and/or anxiety? What are the  symptoms of your fear and anxiety? How can the specific scriptures cited help you to address  your weakness and rely on God’s strength? Take some time to reflect on the scriptures that I  have presented to help you to allow God’s grace and power to work in your weakness. 

MEMORY VERSE: 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10  

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in  weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s  power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in  hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

THE PRAYER: 

Dear Heavenly Father, 

Anxiety and fear are very real emotions that we all experience in various ways. I thank you that  your word addresses these emotions so specifically and so practically. I thank you that you have  given us biblical examples from which we can learn and that we can imitate. I pray that we can  rely on you in moments of fear, that your strength would be evident in our weakness and enable  us to live this life, and that you would be glorified as a result. I pray that we can find comfort in  you, your word, and your power in our lives. Amen 

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Michelle
Michelle
1 month ago

Thank you so much for this. Your fears about your day are real, but are normal things we all take part of everyday. That is not to diminish them at all. It’s helpful. I loved that. I tend to put myself down if I have fear or anxiety about something I have to do like talk to a co worker or even just speak up when I have an idea at all. Then I slam myself because these thing are so small and I can’t even handle the small things, the “normal” things. This quiet time helps me to realize that ALL things can, should and are needed to be brought to God; He wants me to bring them to Him. I always need that reminder.Thank you for sharing your heart.

Lisa Sharma
Lisa Sharma
1 month ago

Nora, I am so inspired by your example of relying on God to fight your anxiety each day! Your point about taking a STEP of faith and trusting God to provide the strength you need really helped me! Thank you for your openness!

Barbara Berthiaume
1 month ago

Norah, thanks so much for sharing your fears! They are very real and I have experienced many of them myself. Recognizing your fears is the first step to conquering them. Your deep faith is your strength and ally. Your life has changed so much upon your retirement. First, congratulations! I thought I would be bored stiff but have never been so busy. New doors will open that will lessen your fears. Though you will always have some of them, relying on God and your faith will help you through. I just discovered a meditation series called Abide. It is a Christian based meditation. If you haven’t heard of it, try it. It is in the App Store. It was a little tricky to download but I’m sure Galen can help with that! Let me know how you make out! Your sister in Christ,
Barb