The idea of “success” is often on our minds at the beginning of the year. So let’s spend a few weeks considering some of what God has to say about success, particularly about the fact that we won’t be successful if we don’t act. Paralysis is not always a physical condition. Sometimes we are paralyzed by fear, particularly when we encounter challenging new situations. When we look at ourselves and acknowledge our own peculiar inadequacies, our confidence plummets. But success in our endeavors does not ultimately rest in us. It rests in God’s desire and determination to make us successful. Meditating on the following promises will help us fine tune our faith when we feel afraid to try, and it will empower us to move forward by faith into the success of God’s grace.
A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory. … Behold, the eye of the Eternal is on those who fear him, on those who hope for his extravagant kindness. Psalm 33:16–18
Strong and valiant warriors went down to glorious defeat at Thermopylae. Courageous and well-trained horses were not enough for Lee’s cavalry at Gettysburg. The strength of the Spartans had served them well in dozens of other battles. J.E.B. Stuart’s horses drove the Union army crazy for months. But success is not ultimately dependent on an army’s equipment or troop quality. God is sovereign over human affairs. Sometimes he works in ways we cannot see or understand. But frequently he acts in response to the relationship he has with his people. Indeed, he is particularly interested in seeing us maintain two complementary attitudes in our hearts. In so far as it depends on us, he grants success to those who fear and hope in God. Fear is fundamental. It keeps us from acting contrary to God’s requirements for justice, because our fear arises as we recognize and appreciate the consequences for pride or disobedience. Hope for his grace, his extravagant kindness, honors his ability and intention to do more good for us than we could ever ask or expect. His severity and kindness frame our perception of him. Because God wants us to appreciate the fullness of his glory, he looks for people who are totally open to his involvement in their projects.
Father, my heart is completely yours. Let your gracious strength be shown perfectly in and through my humble weaknesses. Amen.