I have just been in a situation that has greatly grieved me. All my attempts at a peaceful resolution and restoration of love had failed and in return, I was verbally attacked. The words were harsh and devoid of respect (that kind which should have been due to a much older person who has been constantly helpful and supportive through the years) and seemed final. Such was the venom vented by a heart and mind controlled not by the Holy Spirit. I rested my case; I stopped replying, and with my husband’s firm advice, turned off my cellphone and removed my sim. I would change my number; I would not fight back (it will be absolutely futile). I would be unreached.
And with that final act, I murmured, “Forgive, for they know not what they do.”
I crawled into the Lord’s secret place and drenched the succeeding hours with frenetic prayers. There was a moment that I asked in my heart amid unshed tears, “Why do they easily hurl attacking words like that, Lord? Why do they hate?”
The Lord answered me, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me before it hated you…They hated me without a cause” (John 15:18, 25).
The Lord Jesus who was pure and sinless and who did nothing but goodness, teaching and healing wherever He went, was hated and mocked and spat upon.
I was somewhat comforted, but the heaviness and sadness remained. I prayed a lot more until I was exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then I put the matter to rest and rested in the Lord’s love, mercy, and embrace. I recited Psalm 91:1 in my mind over and over:
[She] that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
And so, that’s what I did. I took cover in the Lord’s light and loving embrace where the arrows of the wicked one (through people he uses) couldn’t touch me. Jesus is my refuge and my fortress.
In 2014, I published my second book, Quiet Strength: And Learning from Women of the Bible Who Had It. I have found out that quiet strength amid life’s storms is both inherent to our blessedness and a spiritual practice. It is both the work of the Holy Spirit within us and an intentional effort to follow His voice and pursue peace and power through worship, prayer, God’s Word and meditation on it.
Quiet strength may not always appear triumphant, courageous, and unshakeable. It could also look sad, heavy laden, unsure, scared, and confused. These are processes it may go through as it gathers sense and meaning about things and circumstances, why they happen. With indestructible quiet strength residing in the depths of our being through the power of the Holy Spirit (sometimes it makes itself known during painfully difficult times), we understand that these are only temporary and should bring us to the Savior’s feet – spent but still throbbing with life and hope.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
That is the spirit and backbone of quiet strength. It draws its very life from the Fountain of Life Himself. A branch to the Vine. Quiet strength is strength that flows from the cross (our redemption) and from the everlasting life and love of Jesus. Without Him in our life, we would all be spiritually dead. Without hope and peace.
Quiet strength is choosing to dwell in humility and not to rise up in revenge. It is a readiness to forgive and relinquish all judgment to God. It is letting the Word and the Spirit be in control over all negative emotions that may ensue from the enemy’s attacks. It aligns itself with God’s Word in obtaining some kind of understanding, and in places where there is obscurity, in trusting that God is in control. He has a perfect plan and His purposes will stand.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)
It is surrendering everything to God in prayer – every negative, crippling emotion, every unfruitful thought, every burden – and letting Him reign over every area of our life and our situation. It is putting Philippians 4:6-7 into practice:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I almost tremble in fear as I think of the possible retaliations I could concoct when someone has unjustly attacked me and I had not known the love and mercy of the Savior. I know my ruthless potential. I know I could be downright ugly and dark in the heart and soul. Maybe I would lose hours and hours of sleep as I burn with rage, evil will, and plans of revenge. It is a suffering of the lowest, cruelest kind. For it involves the very soul.
But what quiet strength is not is it is never ugly. On the contrary, it is a portrayal of an incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (1 Pet. 3:4).
So I thank God that I am under grace! I am treading on grace, moment by moment, day by day. I’ve been redeemed from the bondage of sin and will no longer do the lusts of the devil (John 8:44). Because of Jesus.
Because of Him whose mercy has been real in my life, I can feel and release mercy even when attacked. I remain whole even when the enemy’s arrows had poked holes around my peace and joy. I am learning to truly practice the Lord’s teaching:
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mat. 5:44-45)
I am doing the praying for those who hate you part diligently, but I still need tons of prayers and conversations with God and listening to His voice to be able to do the rest from the heart. If we have to love our enemies – those who have unjustly and hurtfully attacked us – we need to do it with the heart. What does that look like? How does it feel like? I’m not sure. But perhaps an outpouring of prayers towards that person, prayers for his/her redemption and salvation, is a kind of agape love which the Lord requires of us? Maybe that is one facet of love?
However this love may look like or take its form, it should bring us peace and strength. Quiet strength is relying on God and His truth to shed light on our doubts and uncertainties. It is leaning on God’s wisdom and not on our own capacities.
Learning to love those who hate us should not undo us or make us vulnerable. In fact, it is a sign of strength, not of weakness. That is, strength only in Christ (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, remember?). For this is our assurance, that whatever the world does to us, however we are hated and attacked, however we are mocked and insulted, however we are rejected and despised, nothing and no one shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39).
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Journey with Jesus,