To be strong in self, even new self, is to be weak in the Lord, for the command is—“be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph 6:10). Thus to be strong in one’s self is to appropriate natural strength instead of spiritual strength; and natural strength never rightly endures, as only “the trial of your faith” does (1Pe 1:7), because your faith, concerning all things is solely in God and nowhere else.
When believers rightly reckon on faith, they are appropriating God’s provision of grace wherein they walk—which alone ever suffices the needs in the present time of difficulty, regardless the level of hardness (2Co 12:9). He would not have it any other way than by His grace, eliminating all natural means! Every time He meets our need, it isn’t in the provision that we learn the greatest lesson—but in the support of God continually assuring us of His presence and care for us at all times.
Strength via Weakness
In the day of Elijah’s faith, the ravens can feed him, and the widow sustain him; in the day of his depression angels wait upon him and God Himself feeds him. What a Father we have to care for us! “His compassions fails not.” “Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies” (Lam 3:22, 32).
This was Elijah’s experience; awakened by the angel “he looked and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head.” Moreover, Jehovah of Elijah’s day is the Lord Jesus of the Gospel day, and in like circumstances the wandering disciples may turn aside to fish all night and catch nothing, only to find in the morning the Lord of glory waiting on the needs of His failing servants with the fire of coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread and a loving invitation to “come and dine” (Jhn 21:9).
Thus, too, with ourselves. Our faith may grow dim; we may be downcast by reason of the apparent failure of all our service, and in our moments of depression and disappointment we may lose heart and think bitter thoughts, pray unadvisedly, and even murmur at our hard lot, yet our Father’s tender care never ceases; His mercies never fail.
Having refreshed His servant Elijah with sleep and food, the Lord gives him fresh directions. He learns that he is on a journey, but says the Lord, “the journey is too great for thee” (1Ki 19:7). What a journey was Elihah’s through this world. Cherith, Zarepath, Camel, Horeb, mark the stages of his pilgrimage, and the chariot of fire is ready to end it in power and glory, but every stage was “too great” for Elihah (requiring God’s provisions—NC).
The power displayed, the courage demanded, the faith required, the opposition to be encountered, the privations to be endured—all were too great for a man of like passions with ourselves. If for one moment Elijah loses sight of the living God; if he fails to walk in daily dependence upon God, immediately he will find that he is no better than his fathers and that the journey is “too great” for him.
It is good for us, as Christians, when we see that our rest is not here (undisturbed rest in God, as in the New Heaven—NC). We too, are on a journey that ends in glory, but a journey in which there are trials to meet, difficulties to overcome (and not allow failures to “trouble” you – Jn 14:1, 27—NC), testimony to be borne, and opposition to be faced. For ourselves, also, we may say the journey is “too great” and we are too small for the journey.
But if the journey was too great for Elijah, it was not too great for Elijah’s God. In tender love, God provides for the need of His servant; and “in strength of that meat”—the meat that God had provided—he went on his journey for “forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (1Ki 19:8).
With God all things are possible (all that He has willed through this entire life—NC). As we view the greatness of the journey and our own littleness, we may well cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things” (2Co 2:16)? But at once the answer comes, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Co 12:9). So, if all the grace and power of the Lord Jesus in glory are at our faith’s disposal we may well press on “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2Tim 2:1).
—Hamilton Smith (1862-1943)
MJS online devotional excerpt for September 19
"Have you ever thought of the Father dealing with you not as to what you are in yourself, but as to where He has positioned you in His Son? Have you ever thought that it is the affections of the Father’s heart which flow down to us where we are, seeing us in the Son, not in our poor wretched selves? What we are in the old man is not the thing to scan (for we are “not in the flesh” – Ro 8:9—NC), but what we are, and where we are, in the Son; and what there is in the living affections of the Father, who has raised us up together with His Son, and has given us all heavenly blessings in Him." -George Vicesimus Wigram (1805-1879)http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/