We have to be strong to survive. We have to be strong to deal with challenges of life. We have to be strong to live a good life. We have to be strong to live out our calling. We have to be strong to be happy.
St. Paul said in today’s passage,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. (Ephesians 6:10)
“Be strong in the Lord…” What does it mean to be strong in the Lord?” Be strong in the Lord” means NOT TO BE SHAKEN. No matter what situation we may encounter, we have to be solid like a rock. That is what it means to be strong. We need to have a solid existence. We cannot be like chaff that the wind drives away. We should be like a tree planted and deeply rooted by streams of water. To live a fruitful life, we should be strong.
To be strong means to be CONSTANTLY positive, thankful, joyful, and hopeful. The key word is “constantly.” We have to be consistent. It is easy to be positive once in a while, thankful once in a while, joyful once in a while and hopeful once in a while. But it is hard to be constantly that way. To be constantly that way, we need to be strong.
To make these positive qualities constant and consistent, we need to have spiritual discipline. You practice it so much that it becomes a part of you. Just thinking about it is not enough. Just knowing that it is important is not enough. We need to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we are constantly positive, thankful, joyful, and hopeful.
St. Paul said,
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)
Life is unpredictable. We don’t know what situation may come to us. Uncertainty is a part of what life is. We all have learned that very clearly through this Covid crisis.
This crisis is not over. We are now in the fourth wave. Nobody knew that we would be affected for this long. This crisis affected all of us in a very profound way. It changed our life style. No one ever imagined its devastating effect. It is something we saw only in movies. Now September is not even two weeks away. School is going to start soon and the daily rate of delta variant Covid cases are doubled in two weeks in US. On Friday, we had 650 new cases in Ontario. And 689 on Saturday. And the kids are not vaccinated. No one can predict what will come in September.
We are living in a very unpredictable time. This creates anxiety, anger, and fear. It makes us shaky. It makes us weak. We can easily allow darkness to enter into our soul and let it control our life. It will weaken us.
You know what. It is not just corona virus that throws our life into chaos. Life is always full of challenges and it will always be that way. That won’t change. We cannot live our lives wishing that there is no problem. Wishing that there is no problem is a very passive attitude. Wishing that there is no problem in life is a sign of weakness. Instead of wishing that no problem may come your way, pray that you may have strength to take these challenges and face them. Pray that you may not fear these challenges. We cannot run away from our problems. We have to be bold to take on challenges of life. That is what it means to be strong. Instead of running away from the flaming arrows of our problems, we need a shield, the shield of faith. Our faith becomes the shield to protect us from the attack.
Yes, we all get attacked sometimes. Negative thoughts fill our heart. We are so fearful that we become paralyzed. We get tired and get easily temperamental. Sometimes even meaninglessness of life attacks us. We say to ourselves, “What is the point?”
We cannot let these things enter into our soul and poison us. We need to protect ourselves from the attack. We cannot just sit around, hoping that these feelings will go away. They won’t just go away. Even if they go away temporarily, they will come back. We need the shield that protects us from these attacks. That is faith. When these attacks come, we believe that we will be all right. We believe that God will give us strength. God will not let these things destroy us. We are precious children of God. Believe that with God, these attacks will only make us stronger. That is what faith is. When we have faith, our problems will make us stronger, not weaker.
Comfort and Luxury
We are called to live a fruitful life. We are called to love. We are called to be truthful. We are called to serve. We are called to resist the evil. We are called to fight the injustice.
God gave us comfort and luxury as a gift and we are very thankful. Comfort and luxury – They are just God’s gift. But they are not our calling for us to seek after. If you live your lives, seeking comfort and luxury, if they become your goal, you become weak. When God gives you comfort and luxury, be thankful but remember that our calling is bigger than seeking comfort and luxury. We are called to love, to be truthful, and to serve. We are called to resist the evil and fight the injustice. To live out what we are called to do, we need to be strong. That was what St. Paul asked for.
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
You can see he was in prison. And yet he didn’t get discouraged. He was strong. He asked to pray for him so that he could live out his calling of delivering the message of the mystery of the gospel.
Enjoying life is good. You don’t need to feely guilty of enjoying your life. Once at Wednesday Bible study, they shared how they feel guilty to have a luxurious vacation. I told them not to. We ought to enjoy life. But don’t let that be temptation to lure you away from your calling. Then you will become weak. All kinds of temptations will come into your soul and poison you. You will become weak. Don’t let the sweetness of life ruin your existence. Don’t let it rob you of the true joy of living out your calling.
Look around. There are people who need your help. There are issues we have to deal with. There are injustices that we need to address.
Let us cultivate prayer life. That is the best way to be strong. When we live a prayerful life, God will guide you. You don’t know exactly how God will shape you but he will shape you so that you become strong.
Make time for yourself. Just 30 minutes. Enter into prayer. Be there with God. Sense God. Listen to God. Listen to yourself. You will find focus in your life. This focus will give you strength. Prayer is not just for very religious people. We all need time to be alone with God. Let God guide you and strengthen you. It’s like listening to your life, listening to yourself, and listening to God. Especially when life is hard and difficult, you need this time to be equipped with the armour of God.