Several years ago, after Ethan was injured, I decided I needed a Mighty God. I knew mine was. I just needed to be reassured. I looked up all the verses in the Bible that had to do with God's might. Verses I hoped would convince me that what I thought I knew about God was true.
I needed a mighty God because I was being swallowed up by my circumstances. God had told me that when I would pass through the rivers, they wouldn't overflow me. And He told me that when I walked through the fire, I wouldn't get burned. But it sure didn't feel like it. I felt like I was drowning. I could have sworn I was being scorched. Panic was setting in.
I found the verses I was looking for. One after another. Verses that reassured me my God was truly a God of power and might.
I read about God's might in Psalm 145:6,
"Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness."
In Isaiah 40:26,
"Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things; who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing."
Job describes God as "... wise in heart and mighty in strength."
In Psalms 24:8, David answers the question "who is this King of glory?" with the following:
"The Lord is strong and mighty, the Lord is mighty in battle."
Paul reminds us believers to be "... strong in the Lord. To be strong in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10
Zephaniah calls Him "The Mighty One" in 3:17.
"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
Nehemiah calls Him "Our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy." (9:32)
Over and over again in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites that it was "God's mighty hand" that brought them out of Egypt.
I found many more verses about God's might. And even though my eyes couldn't see it, I knew I had a God that was bigger than my circumstances. I felt reassured. Fears quieted. At least for a while.
While I was searching for a Mighty God throughout my Bible, I was also reading the book by Philip Yancey, "The Jesus I Never Knew." Yancey looks at Jesus through the gospels, trying to put away the teachings and traditions that, in the past, had clouded his perception of the Saviour. He begins with the birth of Jesus and ends with His Kingdom on earth now and the one to come.
I was sitting on my front porch, with the verses about God's might fresh in my mind, as I began to read about the crucifixion of Jesus in Yancey's book. And for the first time, I saw the real meaning of might. Of power. I read as Jesus, while seeming to be the victim of those that wanted to shut Him up, to kill Him, was actually the one in control. He was the One allowing the events to unfold. He was not the victim of the Roman soldiers or the Jewish leaders. He was only a victim of His love for me.
I saw for the first time what might and power it took for God to watch as His Son was ridiculed. As He was spat upon. I saw the might it took for God to hold back. To not end the emotional and physical torture His Son was enduring.
As I sat on the porch I thought about how hard it is to stand back and let Ethan try to do something for himself. To not jump in and make it easier for him. I thought about all the times I have wanted to protect his dignity. For Ethan not to feel embarrassed. I thought about all the times young children have stared at Ethan and I have stared right back. Sometimes making scary faces just daring them to keep it up. I'm not proud of it, but there have been plenty of times I could have knocked a few small heads off a few small shoulders. The fact that I taught four-year-olds for 16 years, and that I understand both their curiosity and innocence, only shows the desire I have to protect Ethan's feelings.
I can't even imagine standing by and watching either of my sons be publicly humiliated or physically abused. But God did it. And it was His might that allowed Him to stand quietly by and let it happen. To let it happen for me.
I also thought about the might that it must have taken for Jesus not to call down a legion of angels that stood ready and waiting. One word and they would have been there. I can't imagine the might it took to say in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Not My will, but Yours." And to know what that meant. Jesus knew what He was agreeing to do. He knew, and still said yes. That's might.
Yancey quotes M. Scott Peck as saying, "I cannot be any more specific about the methodology of love than to quote these words of an old priest who spent many years in battle: "There are dozens of ways to deal with evil and several ways to conquer it. All of them are facets of the truth that the only ultimate way to conquer evil is to let it be smothered within a willing, living human being. When it is absorbed there like blood in a sponge or a spear into one's heart, it loses its power and goes no farther." The healing of evil can be accomplished only by the love of individuals. A willing sacrifice is required..."
And that's what God spoke to me. My God is mighty because of His Love. The love He had, and the love He now has for me. The love that conquered evil that day on the cross. He also conquered my enemies that day on the cross, but not with a sword. Nor with the power it takes to call the world into being. Nor with a legion of angels at His command. But with His love. A quiet, sacrificial love. The love He had for me. Jesus chose not to use His power and His might that day when he suffered and died for me.
Sitting on my porch that day, I realized that the God I needed in my circumstances was the God that loved me like that. He was the God I wanted. The God I wanted to be mighty in battle, had chosen to die on a cross. To prove His love for me. And I don't think He had ever been mightier than at that moment.
Would God, that allowed His Son to die for me, not also be with me through my most desperate circumstances? After giving up the best He had for me, why in the world would He hold anything back from me? A God that would lay aside His power and His might to save me, is mightier than I could have ever imagined or hoped my God to be.
Paul says it best in Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
I was reminded of God's might this past Thursday afternoon, sitting in my mother's hospital room. The nurses took her out for a medical procedure and I was left sitting in her room alone. I still find myself in circumstances that seem to be pretty overwhelming. Some circumstances are the same as they were years ago that day on my front porch. Others are new. I began to pray. I was praying the "I" prayers. I need help. I can't do it. I don't understand. I'm sorry. I...I...I.
We were in Providence, a Catholic hospital. I looked around the room and noticed a 12 inch high crucifix above the door. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I had also noticed them earlier in the day all throughout the hospital, and began to wonder why the cross I wear around my neck is empty. Cleaned up, so to speak.
The last thing I need to do is to delve into a theological study as to why some groups choose to use the cross to represent the sacrifice of Christ and some use it to represent His resurrection. Especially, when both groups believe in both.
I praise God that Jesus is alive. That death couldn't conquer Him. That I can wear an empty cross. Yesterday at church we sang the song, "Breathe." I was amazed as I sang the words, Your Holy presence, living in me. How and why would a Holy God, the only God, ever choose to live in me? I don't know. But, I'm thankful He does.
But sitting there in the hospital, with my "I" prayers, I needed to see the Sacrifice. I needed to be reminded that my enemies have already been defeated. That they were defeated by God's Love. I needed to remember the Sacrifice that was made for me. I needed to remember that love always involves sacrifice. And God showed us the Greatest Love of all with the Greatest Sacrifice of all. Jesus on the Cross. God's Sacrifice. Himself. For us.
I needed to remember that the One that would fight my battles was the One who died for me. To remember that the night in the garden, Jesus put His trust, His life, in the Father. Our Father. And to ask myself, will I do the same. Will I trust Him?
Jesus filled up my heart those few minutes in that room. And I was humbled to think that the Person depicted on the cross hanging above that door was the reason for my life. That He is my hope. My victory. My answer to all of the things I had been praying about.
There was my Mighty God. Hanging on the cross. My cross. There was a little sign hanging on the top of the crucifix. I imagine that it said, "Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews." I think it should have said, "Cheri's King, on her cross."
I do have a mighty, mighty God.