“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
Life is challenging. There are people that can cope with challenges. There are others who see a challenge and turn and run from it, or they cower in the corner hoping it will go away. Do you know which description fits your reaction to a challenge? Do we meet the challenges head on knowing that whatever God has put in the path of our lives, He has also equipped us to face it with courage and strength?
It is important for us to be intentional in what we do. Our Proverbs 31 lady dresses herself which means that she prepares for what is to come. The word strong at the end of the verse does not mean just physical strength. It also means to be alert both physically and mentally and to be courageous. If we are not prepared for the challenges that come our way, we will certainly feel inadequate. We should intentionally seek to strengthen ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Thus we will be better equipped to serve our Lord, our families, and others.
- Physical strength is an easy one to gauge and work on if we take the time to work out and watch what we eat. This should be something that is part of our daily routine. I like to walk every day and do some exercises at home that help strengthen my core and help keep my shoulder (which I have had surgery on in the past) functioning at its maximum capacity. The struggle many people have with a daily exercise routine is discipline and priority. If we do not make it a priority and make sure we include it into the schedule of our day, we will not have strong bodies. Sometimes the conditions outside in Michigan when I walk are not ideal. It is cold, snowy, rainy, windy…but I try to not let these conditions get in the way of my daily walk. We must evaluate our lives and decide what could be exchanged for a regular exercise routine. Then when we are called on to help someone, we are prepared with strong arms.
- Mental strength can be viewed in a few different ways. As we age, we struggle with our memories. We all have seen ourselves forget things we did not used to forget, or not pick up on something that normally would not escape us. The studies have shown that besides regular exercise and a healthy diet, mental exercises and challenges assist in warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s. So if we learn a new skill, a new language, or a new way to do things then our brains will keep active which keeps our minds functioning at a higher level.
Mental strength is also our ability to exercise, “mind over matter.” Those individuals that run marathons, do Iron Man races, climb Mount Everest, etc. definitely practice this. In life we are challenged with overwhelming situations that are equivalent to an Iron Man competition. Do we turn from these situations or do we face them head on with mental strength which is built on past situations? Mental strength is like preparing for a race. Runners do not run an Iron Man competition without any training, rather they spend months preparing for the actual day of the race. If we do not meet the challenges in life as they come, and instead turn from them, we are not preparing ourselves for the bigger “races” that are to come.
- Emotional strength is the last strength we will look at. I have not always had emotional strength. As I write this and evaluate what has caused me to be emotionally weak, I think part of it has to do with selfishness. If things were not all about me or did not go my way, I would cry. Maybe not for the world to see, but inside I was crying. I have been through more events that have chiseled away at my emotional weakness, and now situations do not send me to the corner looking for a Kleenex box. God has brought me through some tough situations that have strengthened me emotionally. I still cry…ask my daughters, but I do not cry over me but rather over others and their difficult situations, a sad movie, my children, a book I am reading, etc. We must not let every situation turn us into an emotional wreck, rather we must be strong emotionally while maintaining a sensitivity to others and their needs.
Take some time and figure out your weakness in these areas and be courageous enough to change that weakness into a strength. Discipline in any area is not easy, but the easy things have little rewards. Go ahead and be courageous, you just might surprise yourself.
“And at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say,
‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!’”
(Proverbs 5:11, 12)
- How does the above verses, Proverbs 5:11, 12, apply to Proverbs 31:17?
- Which of the three strengths do you struggle with the most? Why?
- What is keeping you from being disciplined?
- What steps will you take to become better in your area of weakness?