A Prayer Regarding Fortitude
By Jessica Van Roekel
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:5-7, ESV)
Do you ever start January with resolutions all shiny and bright? Do you think, “This is the year I’m going to get it all together?” And some of us work those goals like a bread maker kneading dough. But others, like myself, find those shiny resolutions dulling after a few days. I start out with energetic vigor but lose it when the reality of the work involved smacks me in the face. I forget about the in-between–the time defined as the moments of putting words into action and being intentional about my intentions.
I’ve determined to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep, but I make excuses, and the dessert’s too good to refuse. I’ve committed to weekly family nights, but busy schedules prevent them. I make goals for my spiritual walk, too, and determine to finally finish that one Bible study I started a few years ago, but I can’t find the book.
These resolutions and my inability to keep them leaves me feeling frustrated with myself, so I no longer make them, but I do resolve to stay faithful to the Lord and trust that he will grow in me what he wants as I surrender to him. This type of resolution needs fortitude undergirding it.
Fortitude can be defined as the mental and emotional strength needed to face difficulties with courage. Winter doldrums creep in like fog on a lake, and old coping habits of overindulgence and the mentality of “I’ll do it tomorrow” take over. Our resolve to use the planner we spent way too much money on stays empty, and we slide it into a drawer, where it lies as a reminder of our ineptness to organize our life. We begin responding to life from a defensive position rather than an offensive one.
This passage from the Psalms reminds us that even though life holds hardships, we can move forward into beauty. Even though we may disappoint ourselves with our inability to stay focused on our January goals, momentum is still possible. So often, we disqualify ourselves because of our perceived failures, but what if we reframed our perception and viewed it as an opportunity to learn fortitude?
The psalmist tells us we go from strength to strength. Our strength is in God. We find his strength when we seek his presence and when we have his presence, we have his blessings. This means that we have the strength for what’s right in front of us, not for something hidden around the next bend.
God makes himself near us each step of the way. Isn’t that a wonderful thought–to know that God is near when we feel alone? When we spend time with God through Bible reading, worship, and prayer, we experience renewed spiritual strength. We can look at our valleys and see beauty for ashes because God makes it a place of growth.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with the areas you want to improve in your life, lean into fortitude. Focus on receiving the strength you need from God by enjoying him, talking to him, and by sharing your life with him. He is your strength, and he provides the mental and emotional tenacity you need.
Thank you for being my king of kings and lord of lords. Great are you, Lord! You are my strength, and my heart is set on you. I know I will face situations where I will wonder if I’ll make it to the other side. Help me to see the beauty you’re making as I lean into you. Direct me as I go from strength to strength. Let the steps I take be guided by your hand and let the words of my mouth bring you glory and honor. Thank you for making my valleys a place of growth. I trust you for fortitude.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Alvaro Moreno Perez
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
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