Trying to Be Strong
"For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?" Psalm 18:31 (NIV)
To someone else, it may have been just a simple two-letter word. But to me, it was a divine message from a holy God.
During an activity at a women's retreat, we were to pull from an envelope a specific name of God from Scripture. We were given time to journal about it, and what that particular name meant to us personally in that moment.
Snuggled up on a comfy couch, I opened my envelope and slipped out a piece of paper with the word El, meaning "The Strong One." I looked up the Bible verses at the bottom of the paper, which included today's key verse Psalm 18:31.
As I prayed, my heart began to stir as this name of God sunk in. Words poured into my journal: "Jesus, I'm tired. I confess that I always try to be the strong one. Strong for my mom ... my dad ... my sister and brother ... my husband and children ... my friends. Trying be strong for everyone is exhausting and stressful."
I jotted down the names of loved ones I felt obligated to be strong for and the reasons why. It was as if justifying why I tried to be their rock made it okay. I also journaled about being strong regarding my own circumstances ... relying on my own strength while wearing a mask that I could shoulder the weight of everyone's burdens.
Exhausted, I turned to God for help. It was then I felt Him assure me I didn't have to be strong all the time-because He is "El," The Strong One. I realized I had tried to be the rock for those I loved, instead of leaning on the Rock who is the true strength they need.
In Psalm 18, David praises God for being his source of strength. He looks back and reflects on all God has done, thanking the Lord for not only delivering him from the hands of his enemies, but for giving him strength to overcome them. In Psalm 18:31, David acknowledges the only reason he experiences victory is because God is his Rock. His Strong One. His strength.
I felt my heart lighten. With a sigh of relief and gratitude I journaled words of praise. Just like David, I thanked God for being my strength and my Rock.
Although He didn't deliver me from the hands of physical enemies like David faced, God helped me find victory over the habit of being strong on my own. He reminded me I needed to rely on "El" for strength, whether I am carrying the weight of other's burdens and hurts, or just making it through another stressful day.
We can offer support, prayers and a listening ear to others, but we can't be someone else's rock. It is God's job to be the Rock. He's capable and willing if we give Him room to be.
Dear Lord, forgive me for thinking I can live in my own strength or that my strength is sufficient to support those I love. Remind me to fully lean on You. Thank You for being "El", our One, while paving the way for victory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What would it look like if you stop trying to carry the burdens of others and allow "El" to be their Rock?
Spend time journaling your thoughts about this topic of the Rock, and how God's Name "El," The Strong One, might be applicable in your own life.
Psalm 28:7, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (NIV)
Psalm 18:1-2, "I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)
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