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January 5, 2023

Standing Strong in a Messy 2023 (Part 1)

My son, Mason, a sophomore in college, was given two books* for Christmas.

Sitting at his desk the day after Christmas, I laughed when I saw the message God was giving me when I read the titles of the two books sitting next to each other.

Book #1: Life is Messy

Book #2: Stand Strong

Life is messy. Stand strong.  Maybe this is the book I should write.

Life is horribly messy and hard.  I doubt I have to convince anyone of that.  Sure, there are life hacks and tweaks you can adopt to make your life less messy.   But even as you strive to simplify your life, the complex, challenging and messy lives of others will invade your tidy space.

And that’s the way it should be.  That’s where men, who understand that they are made for others, step in to love, encourage, and serve.  It’s rarely easy, but it’s a role Jesus commands us to play (John 13:34).

But how do we stand strong in the messiness of life?

By trusting our Heavenly Father and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Does this sound overly simplistic?  It’s the best that I’ve got.

The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that our lives will be filled with all kinds of trials and troubles.  The first step in standing strong is trusting God and recognizing His sovereignty regardless of our obstacles.  Big or small, He’s in it with us!  In no way would I try to diminish the pain you might be in right now.  Life can be brutal.  But we have a loving Father that is bigger than our pain.  I constantly remind myself that regardless of what I face, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).

James 1:4 even tells us to “count it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds.”  Why?  “Because the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that we become mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I can stand strong when I trust in God’s sovereignty, and it’s the Holy Spirit that enables me to do it.

God gives His followers a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline (1 Timothy 1:7).  This is an incredible gift!  The Holy Spirit helps us withstand the trials of life—ours and others, whether they are physical, emotional or relational.

I find strength when I pray daily through certain Scriptures, trusting that God answers these prayers through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The following is my prayer created from Ephesians 3:14-21.  I pray it daily.  I’ll share a few more next week.

Heavenly Father,

I bow before you, asking that you grant me strength and power through your Spirit in my inner being, where Christ dwells.  Give me the strength to comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, this love that surpasses knowledge.  I want to be filled with all the fullness of God. 

You can do far more than I can even ask or imagine, according to your power that is at work in me.  I humbly ask that you work powerfully in me, giving me the strength to stand strong regardless of what this day brings. 

To you be the glory forever.  Amen.


*Life is Messy is by Matthew Kelly, and Stand Strong is a men’s devotional created by Our Daily Bread.




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