Covid-19 waited until the New Year to drop in on me—it wasn’t a nice visit. It’s actually been a while since I felt so weak and helpless. Around the same time a friend (who I hadn’t seen in a while) unexpectedly passed away at the age of 65 years old (flashback of the age that my Dad was when he died 19 years ago). These are reminders of how fragile life truly is and how frail and vulnerable we are (See Psalm 89:47-48, 103:14-16, 144:3-4, 146:4). As the Scottish poet, Robert Burns penned, “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.” We can’t account for unexpected tragedies or stubborn illnesses as time and chance happen to us all (Eccl. 9:11). (See also Ps. 33:10, Prov. 16:9, 19:21). One may say, “So what’s the use? Why bother?” That defeatist attitude comes from the destroyer, not from God (1 Pet. 5:8, John 8:44). Death is not the end for believers in Christ Jesus as the better life is to come (2 Tim. 1:10). In the meantime, wouldn’t you like to strengthen your heart? Your heart will only weaken if you tune in to the present world for their ‘solutions’ (Ps. 60:11, 94:11, 108:12, 118:8, 146:3-4).
The 27th psalm opens with, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” This psalm ends with, “Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
The key to strengthening your heart is in an area we mortals have trouble with—waiting.
We want the remedy to fix illness now. We want the job promotion and pay raise when we deserve it. We don’t want to wait for the prodigal to reach rock bottom before coming home, and the list goes on. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than man’s ideas and ways (Isa. 55:9). God chooses to work in ways contrary to the world’s ways. His preference is to seek the frail, broken and weak to display His glory. David was the youngest and the smallest of his brothers (1 Sam. 16:7, 10-12). Gideon’s family was poor and He was the ’least’ in his father’s house (Judges 6:15). “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27). “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” So although we can be hard-pressed on every side, we won’t be crushed. We may become perplexed, but not in despair. We may feel persecuted, but not forsaken. We may be struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:7-9). Our mindset should be like that of the apostle Paul’s who understood the sufficiency of God’s grace. He experienced God’s strength being made perfect in his weakness, so he took pleasure in infirmities, reproaches, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake. For when he was weak, he was strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10). We should welcome tribulations because they provide the opportunity to build perseverance (which requires waiting on the Lord). Perseverance develops character (that gives us good courage) and character, hope. And it’s hope that doesn’t disappoint, but causes our heart to strengthen and be filled with God’s love (Rom. 5:3-5).
As we allow our minds to be renewed in the knowledge of God and think in a new spiritual mode, we’ll be synced up with God’s will and deprogrammed from the basic principles of the world (Rom. 12:2, Colossians 2:8, 3:10).
This brings me to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18—(verses that I never grow tired of), “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
So don’t lose heart by what you see (or experience) in this fallen world, wait on the Lord and be of good courage. He WILL strengthen your heart! We’ll feel blessed when our only expectation comes from the Lord. A heart that’s set on pilgrimage (the highways leading to Him) is a heart that will always be strengthened (Ps. 62:5, 84:5).