Choose Strength

If you’re a Christian who has been through a difficult time, you probably know the lines well,

The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint ~ Sir 35:17

The Lord hears the cry of the poor ~ Ps 34: 7

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted ~ Ps 34: 19

The Bible is full of such phrases. All of them are true. From the very beginning God heard the cries of the afflicted and unjustly punished. He heard blood of Abel slain by Cain. He heard the wails of the Israelites enslaved by the Egyptians. He heard the mourning of Bethlehem in the Slaughter of Innocents.

He heard Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He hears, and He acts. This action does not always come in the way we hope or appreciate, but God acts while walking a line so think we cannot see it.

It is the line that allows Him to Love each of us enough to allow us to not love in return. It is the line He drew when He chose free will for His Beloveds.

God’s gift of free will is among the greatest gift He gives mankind, second only to His perfect, eternal, Sacrificial Love for us. The gift of unwanted divorce allows those of us who have experienced betrayal, abandonment, and deception to see the tip of strength required to allow another to make that decision.

Where most of us would have, at one point, chosen to force our spouses to stay and to love us, God forces nothing.

Instead Love Himself says,

I Love you enough not to force you to love me.

I Love you enough not to force you to love my creation.

I Love you enough not to force you to love my children.

I Love you enough not to force you to love the life I’ve gifted you with.

I Love you enough to allow you not love.

I Love You and nothing will change that.

I Love You.

This Love is total strength.

It is self-sacrifice. It is setting aside one’s own desires and letting another live for himself instead. What’s more, it is beyond self-sacrifice to something we, as parents, cannot comprehend. It is allowing the fallout of such selfish living to harm your Beloved innocents. It is allowing suffering upon children you uniquely knit in the womb of their mothers. It is allowing pain you could prevent to be inflicted upon those you want to wrap in your Love for eternity. It is allowing what too often becomes mortal injury upon those you Love even more than a mother lovers her child.

A Love like that is beyond human comprehension.

We have no difficulty understanding that God would Love the orphan, the widow, and the downtrodden, but when we are the proverbial orphan, widow, or downtrodden, we often think God should help us beyond what we see Him doing. We get frustrated, angry, or confused by what we perceive as additional betrayal of the God who is supposed to Love and protect us. We assume that the God who inflicts Justice and provides Mercy, who lifts the lowly and exalts the humble should interfere and provide immediate relief.

We think just because we are wronged and suffering God should do x, y, and z for us.

To think we know what God “should” do in our situation seems to equate us with God when it actually equates us with the Pharisee. He listed his good works as we list our painful wounds. He expects rewards for what he has done. We expect rewards for what has been done to us. We expect God to honor our weakness instead of us honoring the strength we find in Christ who allows us to do all things.

What God Offers Instead of Weakness

Feeling God should do something is dangerous territory. Not only does it seem we feel we are qualified to advise our Lord, it also robs us of the opportunity He provides in hardship.

Instead of weakness and handouts, God invites us to share in His suffering and, in turn, He invites us to share in His Strength. He invites us to experience firsthand the value that comes from waiting for good. He invites us to share a bond with Him that only comes through shared suffering. He invites us to let go of expectations of what life “should” be like and role with the moment trusting in His eternal Love and plan for good for us.

He invites us to experience Love in a way few do.

The Love we can find when we are strong is not a love of equal returns. The love of equal returns is based on the philosophy of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” It says, I will love you as long as you love me. It says I will see good in you as long as you treat me how I want to be treated. It says I will stay with you until I won’t.

Instead, the Lord invites us to share in to Love itself. He invites us in to love life, not for what life gives us, but for what we put into it. He invites us in to love others, not for how they make us feel, but for how sacrifice for them. He invites us in to love Him, not for what He should do, but for the strength we draw from Him. He invites us in to love ourselves, not because we are weak, but because He is training us to be strong.

The Lord Shows No Partiality to the Weak.

The Lord is strength personified. We see that best in the Love He freely offers, and He calls us to do the same.

Strength in adversity is not easy, but it is possible. It begins with changing your mindset through changing your actions. Too often we wait to act until we are in the right mindset. We know this is not always the way out.

Many times we change our mindset through changing our actions. Imagine a teenager who tells his mother he is waiting to do his homework until he feels like it. Imagine a pastor waiting to provide counsel until he wants to. Imagine a husband waiting to love his wife until he’s in the mood.

Imagine telling the Lord you did not move toward strength because you waited for Him to change your mindset. It does not mean He expects perfect strength instantly or in every situation, but He does pray you move toward strength and He offers plenty of opportunities to act your way to a different mindset.

He gives you a beautiful world to walk in.

He gives you lungs to inhale and exhale deeply with.

He gives you humanity to reach out to.

He gives you family and strangers to Love.

He gives you the Eucharist to unite cherish.

There are so many ways He calls you to grow stronger rather than to continue to think as a victim. The Lord wants you to overcome that victim mentality. He wants good things for you that only the strong can embrace. He calls you to be strong.

Yes, the Lord hears the cries of the weakened and provides Justice and Mercy in due time, but He never brings the weak favor just because they have been victimized.

Instead He says:

This and that and the other hard thing is your training ground. You are a Warrior fighting a spiritual battle in a world gone mad. Put on my armor. Pick up your cross. Be not afraid.

And so, choose strength.

In all you do, choose strength. Open no door to worry. Let not anxiety take place in your heart. Focus your eyes not on the temporary defeats of this world, but on conquering the next right thing. Accept no less from yourself.

Let the words of the second reading from Saint Paul to Timothy’s chapter four be your final words.

I am already poured out like a libation,

and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have competed well; I have finished the race;

I have kept the faith.

In this world where so many strive for average, choose instead to Live Not Ordinary.

Narrow your eyes, focus your sights, see the big picture, take small steps, grow daily.

Compete well, finish your race, keep the faith.

Choose strength and know you have the Lord God Almighty and His host of Angels and Saints battling demons seen and unseen for you.

Choose strength.

God Bless…

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