By Miki Maynard
He Gives Strength
How does God give me strength? There are many times when I feel physically weak and have a large “to do” list. I also have things that I feel like should be added to my list. The Lord has shown me how I need to develop specific things in my life for my present circumstances, as well as prepare for what’s in my future. It’s important to me to be a good steward with what He has given me to do.
At times, I wonder, especially after going through this past year with things feeling like they are all in a disarray, how will I get back into the flow of things. I have felt so lethargic sometimes with all of the lockdowns and restrictions. Some concerns I have also made me feel depleted. Lately, despite the fact that I am in the midst of my struggle, from the place of His character and out of His faithfulness, He lovingly finds a way to reach through and speak to me and says “love Me with all of your strength.”
In Mark 12:30, the Lord is asked by a teacher of the law what the most important commandment is, and He says it’s to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
I generally have had a tendency to hone in on the first three items in this verse. Love Him with all my heart, mind and soul. The Spirit has been pointing out to me, for some time now, specifically to the word, “strength.” “Love Me with your strength.” This led me to ask, how do I love you with my strength? How do I find the ability to do it? Then I began to realize that I need to find out what the word means in the original language. (Photos via Unsplash)
Surprise From a Friend
Initially, when looking for information on the word strength, I found a definition from a bible study source, Bible Hub, that says “love” in this verse means:
you shall love
Verb – Future Indicative Active – 2nd Person Singular
Strong’s 25: To love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem. Perhaps from agan; to love.
I started looking deeper. Thinking that I am going to find what pertains to the meaning of the word “strength” only, I found this:
The Aramaic New Covenant says to “Befriend Yah Veh [Yahweh] your God from all your heart and from all your soul and from all your mind and from all your power.” (Emphasis mine.)
Befriend? Whoa, wait a minute. Usually, the text in place of this word says “love.” Now I’m caught off guard on the word “befriend.” I was looking into the word “strength,” but this is a surprise. Not that He calls us friends. (John 15:15) I’m surprised where the word befriend is used in this verse, and that it’s in this verse at all.
I feel like I’ve gone off track from looking into finding what the word “strength” means, but if I am going to know how to “love Him with all of my strength,” then I had better understand what this word love means in this context. The bible has so many layers, and I just found another one.
This looks like it is focusing on a different aspect of loving Him as our God. I always thought this verse was about honoring and loving “God,” in some general way, not like this. I always knew and was taught that He wants a personal relationship with me, but finding Him say it directly in this verse, when asked what the most important commandment is…well… this isn’t so professional to say this, but nothing else really fits; it’s mind blowing.
I realize now what He meant, loving Him is befriending Him. What a wonderful discovery! It looks to me like He is mostly concerned with having a relationship with me. He is personable, and not like a dictator, high on some pedestal and ruling with an iron fist. He wants a loving relationship with me.
What Is New Strength
The word “strength” in the Greek is
Noun – Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong’s 2479: Strength (absolutely), power, might, force, ability. From a derivative of is; forcefulness.
My strength is my power, might, ability, force and forcefulness. How do I attain these things when I feel so “blah?” How do I get “strength?” I remembered the very well-known verse Isaiah 40:31. I almost didn’t look into it because it is quoted so often. I didn’t think I would find anything that would expand my understanding of finding the strength that I need. I was wrong. The verse says:
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Emphasis mine.)
What does it mean to “gain new strength?” I want to look further than the basic definition of the word from this source and see if there was more. I looked into the Parallel Bible:
“but they who await Yah Veh [Yahweh], change their force; they ascend with pinions as eagles; they run, and belabor not; and they walk, and weary not.” (Emphasis mine.)
Ah ha! This is something. “Change their force?” I knew I didn’t have it within me to muster up strength on my own. Sometimes I can, but sometimes, I felt I just couldn’t. This wording “change their force” is not what I have heard before. This is what I need to do the work of the Lord.
I need to give a little explanation to what goes through my mind that I feel like should be on my to-do list. As Christians, we know there is more to life than just working and what someone would call living a normal life. We understand that God wants us to do many things like love one another, develop our gifts, develop our talents, have a strong prayer life, study the bible to show ourselves approved, serve our communities and churches, and make disciples.
This is activity that goes beyond going to work and keeping up our home and being with our families. We know it’s not required for salvation, because we are saved by grace. Yet without works, our faith is dead. I want to be one that is working for the Lord and doing all that I should. All of these things take energy. Much needed strength.
How Do I Get New Strength
There is another part of this verse that I found is key to allowing Him to change the force strength in me.
“But those who wait” from Bible Hub says:
Strong’s 6960: To bind together, collect, to expect
Qavah (HEB) means to wait actively with anticipation, hopefully watching for God to act. The most familiar passage in scripture where we see qavah is Isaiah 40:31: “Those who qavah upon the Lord will renew their strength.
The word Qavah also is used in passages referring to “gathering.” I find it interesting that Bible Hub includes “to bind together and collect,” and this Hebrew word is also used in verses speaking of gathering. Don’t we come together (gather) with the Lord in prayer? Isn’t that where we gather corporately and individually and collect strength from Him?
John chapter 15, the Lord speaks of us being attached to Him as the vine and we are the branches. The language in these passages speaks of being engrafted with Him.
Doesn’t He also tell us to go into our room and close the door when we pray? (Matthew 6:6) He knows that is part of our relationship, just between me and Him.
All of these words speak of coming together with Him in friendship, collect from Him, expect from Him, bind with Him. It’s interaction. Revelation 3:20 says that when He knocks and I open the door, that He will come in and sup with me and me with Him. Friendship is an exchange. It’s a relationship.
His Life Force Is With Me
What happens when my force is changed with and by Him. The Parallel Bible literally translates this as:
“they can ascend with pinions as eagles; they run, and belabor not; and they walk, and weary not.” Isaiah 40:31 TPB
THIS is what I was looking for! This is the key to loving Him with all of my strength so I can serve and do what He wants me to do. This may sound crazy, but I can’t help but think of the movie series Star Wars. The “force” is with me. This is not just any force. It is the Creator of the universe who knocks on the door, and when I open the door, He comes in and is my friend. I love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
“I await with my befriended Yahweh, and change my force; then ascend with pinions as an eagle; and run, and belabor not; and walk, and weary not.”
Lord, you are my true strength and my glory-song, my champion, my Savior! Psalms 118:14 TPT
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18:2 TPT
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13 NIV