Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Long Haul



Still meditating on Colossians 1, I looked at The Message version today. This version says this about itself: "The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today." Now, this particular book is not a translation, but a paraphrase, so we have to use caution when we read it. A paraphrase, by nature, is much more influenced by the thoughts and opinions of men than a translation. Someone has put the Bible into their own words, influenced by the culture, and somewhat outside of the rigorous requirements of translation. That being said, I do think there is a place for this type of Bible reading. As long as we read with discernment, I believe that a paraphrase can contribute to our understanding and love of God’s Word.

This morning, as I worked through all of the physical therapy exercises that I must do every day in order to have a functional leg, I began to feel weary. Weary of working so hard for such minimal reward. Weary of slogging through these exercises every day, after I have already spent an hour in the pool, knowing that if I don’t do them, I will pay with increased pain and decreased function. (I actually took a few days off last week, just to make sure that was still true, and the answer is yes.) I know that, unless there is a miracle, I will have to do this for the rest of my life and honestly, I am just sick of it. Of course, as I indulged these weary thoughts, I began to feel sad about my situation. I began to think of other ladies my age who can do so much more than me, and who never give a thought to whether they will be able to grocery shop on a given day, or play with their grandkids, or…

But, thanks be to God, He snatched my thoughts out of that swirling vortex toward depression, by reminding me of all I had been thinking on in Colossians 1. (See? Meditation really does pay off!) I prayed that He would give me strength for the long haul, and joy in the process. Then, I opened up The Message to read Colossians 1, and I had to smile as the words spoke directly to my need:

We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. ­­­--Col 1:11-21

Strength for the long haul. That is what we need, isn’t it, friends? We don’t know how long we have in this world, or how long we will have to suffer here. All we know is that we need strength for today and hope for tomorrow. So, we ask the Lord for the kind of strength that “endures the unendurable, and spills over into joy.” What a perfect arrangement of words! As I plug away at my exercises, I don’t have to grit my teeth and just push through in my own strength. God will supply me with His glory-strength! Don’t you love that term? Glory-strength is the free gift of God, and it enables us to enjoy everything He has for us. Glory-strength is much better than our own strength, because it comes from our loving Father, who knows what we need better than we do. Glory-strength is strength that brings glory to God, because it came from Him in the first place!

What are you going through today that seems unendurable? Are you suffering with pain, disability, heartache, fear, sadness, depression, worry, or all of the above? Take heart, my friend. Stop gritting your teeth, and begin to open your mouth in praise to God for the glory-strength He gives. Is your situation unendurable in your own strength? Good! That means God will supply His strength that will spill over into joy and thanksgiving. As you receive His strength, you will begin to see all the bright and beautiful things He has given you, and the things you are suffering will fade in the presence of His glory. Hallelujah! What a Savior!!