January 14, 2006


"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks."
- Phillips Brooks

2005 was an extremely stressful year for me, to say the least. There were moments when I felt defeated. There were days I cried so much that my body felt completely drained and void of energy. I made it through long, sleepless nights with sick kids. And through other sleepless nights when I stayed up worrying and praying for Robert's safety.

I can't tell you how many times I felt weak. I felt so weak. I remember one particular Sunday morning when I broke down in the lady's restroom at church. A friend hugged me and held me while I poured my tears on her shoulders. When I told her I was weary and tired, she said foreign words to my ears, "You are so strong, Hope."

"No, I'm not," Snot dripped from my nose onto her pretty blouse.

"Yes, you are. You just don't know how strong you are. God knew you could handle this...that's why He's allowing you to go through this experience and not one of us."

She was so right. I couldn't see it then because I felt weak. But every one of those moments, those bone-crushing, heart-breaking, spirit-fracturing moments caused me to flex my muscles. It hurt. Oh, but did it ever hurt! But those moments forced me to flex my muscles. I was building strength and didn't even realize it.

Sometimes all we can pray is God help me through this trial. That's a powerful pray! Without saying it in so many words, you're actually asking God to help you build your muscles--not take the problem away. You're asking for help through, not around.

Building muscles is not easy. Exercise must be done over a period of time to create strong muscles. Just as this is so physically, it is in every other aspect of your life (spiritually, emotionally, etc.). If you don't use (exercise) your muscles, they become weak and flabby. Your "leg" gives out and you suddenly notice that you can't stand up without grabbing a chair for support.

Remember when you face a challenge that you have an opportunity to use your muscles. It will hurt. But you are creating a greater strength within yourself--strength you never had before. One day those muscles will bulge, and you'll flex them and feel no pain.