Set aside the fact that our economy is in turmoil, even in the best of times the “holiday season” can be a stress-inducing nightmare for many people. Compound that with under-employment, unemployment, medical bills, physical illnesses and relationship problems and you have a recipe that almost always cooks up anxiety, fear and depression.
Against this all-too-common picture Paul paints an alternative for the Colossians, praying that they would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Col. 1:11).
Such a heavy emphasis on their need for strengthening implies that there was a significant feeling of weakness. Paul probably didn’t need to know the specifics; he was undoubtedly extrapolating from his own experiences and indeed the experiences of all humans everywhere. While we like to maintain the illusion of control, the reality is that we live in a scary and unpredictable world where anything could, and sometimes does, happen at any time.
The solution is not to buck up and try harder. The solution is not to work at being less stressed out and afraid. The answer comes from completely outside of us. God, Paul argues, is the one who will strengthen the Colossians (and by extension, us), with HIS power, according to HIS glorious might. It is entirely a work of God in and through the Holy Spirit at work in us.
As you enter into Advent, perhaps uncertain about what the future holds, pray with Paul that God would strengthen you too, “with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”