The One Who Gives Us Strength

Gary Wilkerson

When you cover up or repress certain emotions like pain, hurt, sorrow or fear, it’s generally because you don't want to deal with them. The problem with doing this, though, is that we're not built to repress certain elements of our lives. We can't repress pain without also repressing joy. We can't repress fear without repressing peace.

This is why God says, “Bring it all to the table. Bring your fear, and I'll teach you peace. Bring your pain, and I'll teach you comfort.” Jesus clearly stated, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5, ESV).

Well, a lot of Christians in the United States don't believe in mourning. We act as if grief comes from a lack of faith in God. If we repress sorrow and pain, though, we’ll never receive a full measure of God’s comfort.

Recently, in my own personal study of the Book of Psalms, I realized that reading these verses was almost creating in me a sense that I needed to stop. I couldn’t continue until I was willing to be honest with God and the scriptures. Since I’ve faced some serious issues in my life, I actually got out a yellow notepad and started writing things down. I had to admit, “Here's five or six things over the past ten years that hurt deeply, and I tried to bypass dealing with them.” I had to admit that this grief and pain could be good because joy could come out of this place.

I see God protecting us by getting us out of storms but also sometimes by keeping us in the storm. Say somebody is facing depression, and you see God lifting them out of that season of despair. That’s wonderful! At other times, though, you see that God is keeping a person in a tough position. Instead of taking them out of the situation, he gives them peace in the midst of that storm. That’s wonderful too. Our assurance is that God is protecting us no matter what we’re going through.

When Paul wrote, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), he wasn’t ignoring or repressing the pain in his past or present circumstances. He simply knew God would comfort him and see him through.

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