Strength

“You have such a beautiful smile.”

I literally can’t count how many times I’ve received that complement from strangers and friends alike. My staple response used to be, “well my parents paid a lot of money for it.” Which is true. I had braces in elementary school and still have a permanent retainer to keep things in order.

More recently I’ve caught myself responding to this complement with a sheepish, “thanks”. Always associating what they are saying with the physical feature they are viewing.

How selfish! The last time I had this kind of encounter was on my way out of a store and the complement giver was an older man with his wife. I was uncomfortable but it wasn’t because he was being creepy. I was uncomfortable because I made it about me. I know creepy from a mile away and he was not. He, and many of the others were definitely responding to something they saw, but it wasn’t straight teeth.

There’s strength in the smile of those who have Jesus. There’s strength in your smile. People who don’t know Jesus are desperate for a strength they can never achieve on their own. No one wants to be weak, but humanity is.

So a primary condition of humanity is also the unanimous feature we all want to expel: weakness. Interesting, right? Coincidence, anomaly? No.

Perfectly orchestrated and a planned detail of the Father to implant a need for him. He made us capable of so much, but strength is his and joined to us only through his Holy Spirit.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭

That’s just a couple scriptures to reveal the heart and plan of God. And that is my heart, to reveal the heart of the Father through scripture. The question then is not whether or not we are weak and he is strong. But the question becomes how do we appropriate his strength?

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.””

‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬ ‭

There it is. Joy. That’s how we operate in the strength of the Father is to flow in joy! We take the very end of this scripture and quote it all the time and that is fine, but in the context of this verse, the instruction is to take part in the simplest of natural things to appropriate the Lord’s joy. Now, please do not take out of this what I am not saying. I am not saying that you negate Holy Spirit conviction to indulge in fleshly desires. This was spoken under the old covenant where only select days were chosen by God as holy. But under the new covenant every day is holy for he has called us to be holy! (1 Pet. 1:15)

I didn’t forget the story of the smile. Whenever I’m praying I smile. I just become overjoyed in the presence of the Lord and can’t help it. But when I am walking through Walmart, not my favorite place to be, and I smile at a stranger or a clerk, that not only strengthens you it strengthens them. In short, strength is in the smile. So retain the joy God has given you in him with a smile, then share it with another smile. Those people weren’t seeing the thousands of dollars my parents spent, they saw something they wanted. Be the source of strength in the world by simply wearing a smile.

“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭

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