The I AM says I am strong!
“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Psalm 22:19
The summer before her senior year in high school she met a cute college boy named Mark; and they began dating. She was completely infatuated with him. So, when, after only a few months of going out and he suggested they elope and get married, she said yes. She was young, naïve, and head over heels in what she thought was love. Needless to say, the first time it happened she was blindsided. She had gone to the grocery store and forgotten something that he told her to pick up. This aggravated him and made him angry. He hit her. He slapped her across the face. And while this was the first time he struck her, it wasn’t the last. By the time their first daughter was born, two years in to the marriage, the physical and mental abuse had escalated. She knew she had to get out; but he had told her that he would never let her go. He had moved her thousands of miles away from her family. As the youngest of nine children, family was huge (literally) and until this time in her life, she had always had someone to turn to for protection. Now, there was no one. She felt alone, helpless, and ashamed. It wasn’t until Mark found himself another woman that he loosened the reigns and let her go. After a five-year tumultuous marriage, she loaded her daughter and few of their things in her little yellow Chevy Vega and made the freedom journey back to her hometown to start over. The struggle to raise a daughter as a single mother wasn’t easy but she did the best she could sacrificing her needs for the welfare of her child. At work she met a man, a good man, named Boyce and her daughter adored him. She and Boyce married, and he became the “daddy” her daughter had never had. They built a beautiful life together, had another baby girl, and filled their home with love and security. But this wouldn’t last long. Only 12 years in to the marriage, Boyce suddenly died. At the young age of 38, she was a widow and starting over as a single mom yet again. In less than 20 years this woman experienced being a high school student, an abused wife, a widow, and a single mother…twice.
Even though the above passage reads like the script of a Lifetime movie, it tells the story of the real-life drama of my mom, Lottie McMahon Vance. To say that this five-foot, 95-pound woman is the strongest woman I know is an understatement. And she gives God all the glory for the strength that she found to endure all of these trying moments. What an example she has been to my sister, Amanda Stephens, and me! (I am happy to say that for the last 25 years she has been happily married to an incredible man known to all of us as Papa!)
When you think of a strong woman, do you think first of the lady with well-defined muscles who attends cross-fit classes or do you think of a woman, like my mother, who has been through the storms of life and survived, thrived even? We have all endured storms in our lives and very often, during those trying times, we don’t feel strong. We actually feel like we are simply going through the motions. Isaiah 40:29 reminds us that He gives power to the weary and strength to the weak. He promises to do in us what we can’t do for ourselves. The weaker we are, the more dependent we are on God. The more dependent we are on Him, the stronger we become. The challenges of life, the weights of the world, are like the plates we slip on a barbell. Although they are a heavy load to carry, they strengthen us because we must look to Him and have faith that He is strong enough to lift the weight. When we believe that, we can rest in His strength. “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Joel 3:10 we are directed to recognize the strength of our God by proclaiming, “Let the weak say I am strong.” Words have power ladies…no matter what burdens are weighing you down, remember that even though you are weak, you can do all things and handle all things, because of Christ who strengthens you! (Philippians 4:13) So today, hit your knees in prayer and then stand up confidently and boastfully say in your weakness, “I am strong…because He said so!”
Additional Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 46:1-3; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 40:28-31; Isaiah 41:10; Nehemiah 8:10;
2 Corinthians 12:10
I praise You today for all that You are; You are the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the I AM! I know that You created me on purpose for a purpose. I am who You say I am. The enemy wants to hold me back from living out the calling You have placed on my life. Lord, saturate my mind with the truth of Your Word so that I may remember that my identity is found in You and only You. Remind me throughout the day, when the world comes tumbling in, that You are in control. Reveal Your will in my life as I only want to please You. No matter how difficult my day becomes I will remember that I can do all things through You (Phil 4:13). In Jesus' name. Amen