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The Apostle Paul was a praying man. Paul tirelessly prayed for brethren the world over because of the trails they faced while serving God. When praying for the Colossians, Paul petitioned that they would be, "strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy;" (Colossians 1:11).
Paul had never met the Colossians face to face yet he shared in their love for truth (see Colossians 2:1, 5). Paul earnestly wanted these brethren to hold tight to the word of God and the eternal hope it brings. The church of the Lord the world over was being assailed by factious brethren who sought preeminence among the faithful (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-21; 3 John 9). Dogs and false teachers were working diligently to bring men away from truth to their side of opinions and personal convictions (Philippians 3:2). Good and faithful brethren were being made merchandise of by the wicked (2 Timothy 2:16-17; 2 Peter 2:1ff). Members of the body of Christ were taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6). Some Christians were sinning against other Christians (Matthew 18:15-22). Unfortunately, much of the discouragement the early Christians faced began within the church itself. Paul prayed for their strength in these difficult days (Colossians 1:11).
Paul had similarly prayed that the Ephesians "be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might" (see Ephesians 6:10-12). This same Apostle prayed that the Philippians follow his example when faced with discouragement from unruly brethren. Paul said, "1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Paul further explains this strengthening process through Christ and His power at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul prayed that a thorn in his flesh may be taken away; however, God rejects the request and thereby helps Paul understand how His "power" and "strength" rest upon the Christian. Paul states, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9b). It is during our bleakest moments in life that we see our greatest need for Jesus and thereby we are at our spiritual strongest during these times. Paul's prayer request for the Colossians is that they would be strong in the Lord by learning to be totally dependent upon His Word.
The Lord needs strong and faithful Christians to serve him today. Strong Christians means less factious brethren dividing the church. Strong Christians means fewer brothers seeking preeminent followings of others. Strong Christians means more one mindedness in local churches. Strong Christians means more souls will be saved. Strong Christians mean less false teachers, dogs, and enemies of the cross of Christ within the church. Stronger Christians means less troubles in the brotherhood from within the church. Strong Christians means less discouragement among brethren.
The prophet Jeremiah was discouraged early on in his work that the Lord had given him to do. The prophet complained to the Lord about how he suffered as a faithful man yet the ungodly seemed to go on prospering. The Lord replies to the prophet saying, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?" (Jeremiah 12:5). The Lord asks Jeremiah how he was going to fair when the way of life really turned miserable. Jeremiah just thought things were bad now. The Lord says wait till those of your own household seek your life.
Solomon wrote, "If you faint in the day of adversity thy strength is small" (Proverbs 24:10). The Christians must know that Satan never rest in his quest to destroy (see 1 Peter 5:8). Let us proclaim, as did Paul, "l can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). The successful Christian is one whose trust and confidence lie within the pages of God's word. Therein we find our peace and eternal hope. Let's pray for each other's spiritual strength in these days of turmoil.
John C Robertson