The discipline of relying on God
Have you ever felt worn beyond measure, where every fibre of your being resigns to simply getting by?
I’m currently in a season where my body is waging war against itself. It is running severely short of sleep due to work, ministry, marriage preparation, and the “time of the month” for females (hello excessive snacking and body aches). I am inevitably left frantic and half the time I’m left wondering: “How am I going to get through this week?”
We wrestle with weariness continually as our to-do lists mount. It gets more challenging to prioritise and leaving adequate room for physical rest seems out of reach. As dusk comes around, we drag our feet and hollow bodies back home, praying for the Lord to strengthen us.
I vividly recall many occasions in my life where my physical body was pushed to its limits. Whilst in university, sleepless nights were the norm and going for classes not having slept the night before was hardly surprising. Now in my late twenties, caught in a whirlwind of mandatory activities, my physical body is undoubtedly fatigued.
Yet, in recent weeks, whenever I spend time alone with the Lord, one phrase repeatedly comes back to mind: “Strength in the inner man.”
After two weeks of consistent prompting from the Lord, I realised that God was inviting me to delve deeper into what “strength in the inner man” truly means. I began to reflect on why Paul had prayed Ephesians 3:16 (NKJV), “…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…”
As I honed in on His word and His presence, my physical weariness somehow started to take a back seat. My spirit began to function differently, with a deep thirst for the Holy Spirit, changing the way I went about my daily activities. In fact, I could tangibly feel a surge of strength in my belly area whenever I took a moment in my day to connect with the Lord, which often left a tinge of joy too!
This personal encounter of knowing that God’s desire for us is to be strengthened in our inner man rather than our physical bodies revealed three truths to me:
- Our flesh may fail, but God is our strength (Psalm 73:26 NIV)
We live in a world built on logic and stimuli, so much so that we forget that we were made for the spiritual. Our bodies are earthly and temporal, yet we spend most of our lives relying on our physical bodies, confined by their limitations.
More than caring for our physical temples, we need to ensure that our spirits are actively connected to the Source — God. Those who are born of the Spirit must live by the Spirit.
I am grateful for the word of God that says in Psalm 73:26 (NIV): “My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” If not for His new mercies every day, I cannot stand confident that God will ever be my strength and therefore have no need for worry or anxiousness. Our flesh fails because it isn’t the way God intended for us to live!
Upon deeper reflection, this phrase gripped my heart: Reliance on my own strength is infidelity to the Holy Spirit who lives in me. 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” The Holy Spirit is our renewing agent, yet there have been many times where we’ve neglected Him.
Are you connected to the Holy Spirit today?
- Life without Jesus is a life without strength (John 15:5 NIV)
Without Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice, I would not be able to recognise the strength that is in Him and that which comes through Him. I am reminded of John 15:5 (NIV) which says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
The last phrase of this verse gets me every time. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.
Life without Jesus is like cracking open an egg and finding no egg yolk in it — the egg yolk, not the shell, provides the necessary nutrients to a physical body, as well as for a new embryo to form. Similarly, life without Jesus is a life without strength that sustains us throughout our life.
Our inner man desires for a life and strength that is not merely human but divine.
- When I am weak, I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)
Again, like eggs, we all have physical breaking points. It is only when the shell is broken (regardless of whether it was dropped, crushed, or smashed) that one is able to attain what is within: the yolk.
This is probably why Paul was able to write 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV): “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It is only when we allow the Lord to break us open and rid us of our own prideful strength will we be able to tap straight into His divine strength and taste of His all-sufficient grace. All it took was a quiet moment at the office one morning, for the Lord to starkly break into my heart to remind me that I had to stop striving in my own physical strength. He helped me to understand again that everything done from the place of physical strife would result in man-made manufacturing, versus a Spirit-led encounter.
The lyrics of Steffany Gretzinger’s “Oxygen” reminds me that when I am weak, it is God alone who is my sustenance. No one else, and nothing else will be able to grant me strength in my inner man!
“Sometimes my very best
Is only my weakest yes
You see strength in every movement
Baby steps and short breaths
Anything is progress
You sustain my every moment”
If you are going through a rough season and badly in need of supernatural strength, I encourage you to pray through the verses mentioned above. Praying the word of God will strengthen your inner man! May all of us take on the posture of pursuing strength beyond the physical, because it is strength in the inner man that truly matters.