You’re stronger than you think you are.

My husband lovingly spoke these words over me a couple of years ago when I was struggling through a difficult time. I was fighting with some old baggage that wants desperately to stay active in my life at most every turn: insecurity.

These aptly spoken words from my husband were like water to my soul. I knew God had used him to speak a truth to my heart, and I needed to figure out how to allow its healing balm to repair the damage my heart had incurred once again. It led me on a journey through the concept of pilgrimage, and I was both surprised and comforted by where the journey led.

Psalm 84: 5-7 says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you (God), whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs, the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”

For a little background, the Valley of Baka can also be translated as a Valley of Weeping. On every journey it seems there are places of difficulty in one form or another, some of which seem to last longer than their fair share. A very important phrase to notice in the aforementioned verse is that they pass through the valley. They don’t stay in the difficult places. Winston Churchill’s famous quote comes to mind, “When you go through hell, keep going.”

The verse goes on to describe finding the silver lining in the difficult places on the journey by stating they make it a place of springs, the autumn rains also cover it with pools. The sojourners literally dug wells in those difficult valleys so rain would catch in them. They were thinking about the refreshment they would find on future journeys through the valley. They were doing the best they could with what they had.

Notice the verse says they went from strength to strength and not weakness to weakness. Sometimes in the middle of difficulty, it is so hard to see that as truth. When we watch and wait for God’s strength, we will find it. I personally hold on to the promise that God will not waste your pain.

You’re stronger than you think you are.

Seriously, sometimes I know I get in my own way. (Do you too?) Self-doubt and focusing on our faults or past failures won’t help us succeed. So why do we camp in those places?

We have to allow God to change the way we think.

Romans 12:2 says, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Oftentimes our struggles are due to being tired or discouraged and we just need a little encouragement that we can do whatever it is we need to do with God’s help. Other times however, the situation is completely out of our control and seems impossible. We keep trying to move forward, but feel like we’re walking through mud. And I would repeat amazing advice that I received from one of my early mentors: “Plod on, plod on, plod on.”

I get great encouragement from Ephesians 6:13, Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Miracles can only happen when things are out of our human control. We must admit our dependence and need for God. And then he can send us his peace.

It’s not our job to figure it out; it’s our job to follow God’s lead and to remain faithful.

It is literally our choice if we want to become stronger than we think we are. We get to choose. Will I grow in faith, or not?

Hebrews 11:1 says, What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. This is where the rubber meets the road.

James 1:2-4 says, Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. (WHAT?!) For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. SO LET IT GROW, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

We often look at stories in the Bible about faith for insight. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the biblical “faith hall of fame.” It is full of reminders of Old Testament stories of people who allowed God to grow their faith. And it was by faith that… Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the people of Israel, Rahab, et. cetera, did what seemed impossible. Hebrews 11:34 says, …their weakness was turned to strength.

God did through them what they could not do themselves.… because they trusted him.

I’d like to quote a segment of the book Kisses From Katie by author Katie Davis, who as a young woman has dedicated her life to serving children in Africa.

“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.” People repeat this frequently; I heard it when I was growing up and I hear it now. It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true. But I don’t.

I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.

…Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious. He reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle. Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives.

And as I surrender these situations to Him, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish…

Do not give up.

I love how this message is worded in Hebrews 10:23, Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

God-sized dreams and God-sized problems are only met by God-sized anointing.

You are stronger than you think you are when you hold tightly to the hand of God and allow him to navigate you through your personal Valley of Baka.

You are stronger than you think you are when you trust God and obey what he has called you to do, even when you can’t see past the curve in the road up ahead.

You are stronger than you think you are when you admit your need for God.

It really is that simple. For with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37). We can choose to grow in faith and to experience peace. You CAN be stronger than you think you are.

This article was written from a message that was preached by the author at Abundant Life Church in May of 2013. You can connect and listen to it here.