I don’t know about you, but the word “power” tends to make me feel rather nervous! I suppose the main reason is that so much depends on what it means in a particular context; put another way, we have witnessed enough abuse of power over the years to justify a certain wariness. A degree of caution is appropriate! But if the abuse of power can be ugly, power itself, when taken in the right way, can be a most wonderful thing. A great deal will depend on the character of the person exercising the power; when it comes to God, the question becomes “what is God like?”.
Psalm 147 includes the affirmation, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power” (v.5); that can be illustrated in many different ways. Some may recall that song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands”; but it’s more than just the world! Who among us can get their head around the apparent infinity of the universe, and the thought that God is both before and through it all? Truly, our God is a great big God! As the writer of Hebrews affirms, the universe is upheld by the exercise of divine power.
That can be reassuring; but it doesn’t necessarily help us a great deal when we come face to face with some of life’s difficulties; there must be something more – and there is! The key is the realisation of the presence of God with us where we are, and that we are not alone. Many of us will be able to recall moments in our life when we felt as if we were cut adrift in the face of something that was quite beyond us. I certainly can think of a number of times when that was my experience; and when I couldn’t even pray for myself, it was so reassuring to know that people in several countries were praying for me.
I would encourage you to reflect deeply on the words of Isaiah 40, in which the writer challenges the people to look beyond the feeling of being forsaken, to see “the Creator of the ends of the earth”. There is the declaration that
“He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless”,
followed by the wonderful assurance that
“those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”.
The value of the Christian community should never be underestimated; it is an important and tangible reminder that there is a fine and beautiful balance between our personal journey and the realisation that we are on this journey together. Together, and with God, we are strong. What it comes down to is this: when we feel least able, then God is most able! As the Apostle Paul prayed,
May you be made strong with the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Col 1:11-12)
Clive W Ayre