by Gina L.
from Virtuous Daughters, November 2016~Volume 16, Number 8
"Panning for Gold" Proverbs 31 Study Series Part 8
One day I was walking down the hallway in my home in Ohio singing, “He has made me strong. He has made me strong. I will rejoice for He has made me strong….” Now I often do sing as I go about my day, and it is not unusual for me to mix up words from various songs like I had done in the above example where the song actually says, “He has made me glad. He has made me glad. I will rejoice for He has made me glad.” The funny thing is I didn’t even realize that I had made an error in the lyrics until I was thinking about writing this down, but the mistake turned out to be a good thing because God taught me much by it.
As I was singing, all of a sudden, I came to a screeching halt as the question, “How has He made me strong?” flashed through my mind. Almost as quickly the answer came: by carrying burdens—weights. Wow! There was a twofold meaning right away in my heart as I stood there in the hallway.
Yes, my physical arms had grown much in their strength through the years. The physical weights that I lifted started small but grew. First it was one small baby, but soon I was carting around a chunky toddler and another baby, and then a small child was being hoisted into a backpack and packed around where the path was too rocky for little feet, and two others were being pushed in a stroller. Eights babies later I was changed, as they each added strength to my arms. There were 50 pound sacks of wheat berry to lift too, and groceries bags stuffed full with food for ten, which I had the odd habit of trying to carry into the house in as few trips as possible when my helpers were gone. Some years there was a garden to work, too. Many people go to the gym to lift weights to strengthen their legs and arms, but as I seized the opportunities of motherhood and its weights, which were often exhausting, I found that they were actually good for my physical body, strengthening it.
Now at the same time that I stood in the hallway, almost instantly I saw the other side of this truth as well. God had strengthened me spiritually through the years, and it hadn’t been through the easy times. It was through the burdens, trials, weights. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but there still is a yoke we wear and a burden we bear, and God uses it to make us strong. Our faith is more precious than gold and it is tried by fire and refined so it can be found unto praise, honor and glory when Jesus Christ appears. In Isaiah, God says to His people, when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and neither shall the flame kindle upon you. He also reminds that when you pass through the waters, He will be with you and when you go through the rivers, they won’t overflow you. But notice that He says you do go through them—not around them! God’s spiritual gym produces great strength though weight. Strength that transforms you, making you more like Him. Strength that is profitable unto all things.
Proverbs 31:17 says the Virtuous Woman girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. How? No doubt through work, labor, weights. Just read Proverbs 31 and you will see all that her arms and hands are attending to and you will see the source of her growing strength.
As we see the Virtuous Woman literally girding her loins with strength, we are reminded of other biblical references where we are to figuratively gird our loins. Peter tells us in his first letter to gird up the loins of our mind and be sober, and we also recall Paul describing the Ephesians 6 warrior who has girded his loins with truth. Truth is more than a belt for your waist. It is a belt for your mind, holding in your thoughts, giving you the opportunity to test them, weigh them, and line them up to the obedience of Christ. God hates lies. The devil is the father of lies, and lies can take innocuous-looking costumes as well like exaggerations, “white” lies, and shades of truth, flattery, gossip (couched in prayer requests even), slander, and hypocrisy—living a lie. What is truth? Jesus in His High Priestly prayer in John 17 asks God to sanctify us through God’s truth, saying God’s Word is truth. His Word will sanctify, feed, and strengthen us as milk does a newborn baby, and we are to desire it like the baby who needs milk so badly because it is essential for life. Gird your loins with truth as well as strength.
The hard work and the bearing of burdens produce physical strength in our bodies, and likewise the spiritual battles, fought vigilantly, with faith and trust through the storms, produce spiritual strength and growth too. (As we see our own weakness and begin to lean on His strength rather than our own understanding or our own strength, we find a paradox. When we are weak, we are strong, as we are in a position to allow God’s strength to work unhindered in our lives.)
God takes you right through the storm, and if you have faith and trust in Him, you follow and you are strengthened…so is your faith. Lifting weights indeed makes you strong; likewise, lifting the weights of life in prayer to God makes you grow spiritually. Prayer is the way through the trial.
As I stood in the hallway thinking about the many trials God had brought us through, like the open heart surgery with our little nine month old baby and the many other things flashing through my mind, I realized He indeed had made me strong. And He had done it through the trials and through the bearing of burdens, which I learned to lift to Him in prayer one by one, casting my burden upon the Lord, and He sustained me. He didn’t allow me to be moved from Him. He continues each day to strengthen me, both my loins and arms and also my faith and trust as He leads me through this life. Yes, all the trials He has allowed have actually done what ease could never have accomplished. They have made me strong and so I continue to sing, “He has made me strong. He has made me strong. I will rejoice for He has made me strong!”
Don’t run from your burdens, weights, and trials. Lift them…..and lift them up to God in prayer, knowing that He has a plan and is working for your good, trusting that through these very weights, God will strengthen both your arms and your spirit, for such does the Virtuous Woman.
The Article Library
This "Library" contains articles that were published in previous issues of Virtuous Daughters. It will keep growing as we continue to upload articles from the 20 years of printing. We pray they are an encouragement to you!