STRENGTH, what is it? I need to take a careful look at what it really is. When I think of a strong person, what comes to mind? Men often think that a strong man never feels sad, never cries, never needs or asks for help, never reveals a weakness, is never vulnerable, always gets his way.
First, as you would expect with God’s peculiar ways, strength comes from weakness and vulnerability. For when I am weak, then I am strong for his strength is made perfect in my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
The weakness of God is stronger than men 1 Corinthians 1:25
Out of weakness they were made strong Hebrews 11:34
John 15:5 -I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
II Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
II Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
It shouldn’t be hard for me to admit that I am weak. I, personally find admitting weakness to myself or others is a scary thing. I’ve often taken the risk to be vulnerable and let a boss know what are my strengths and weaknesses. They usually do not want to receive from my strengths or help me compensate for my weakness and sometimes even make fun of my weaknesses. When I reach out to others, like the apostle Paul and confess that I too need fellowship and encouragement, I find that the ones I have appealed to walk away and leave me in my need.
If life is about avoiding pain and loss and feeling as happy as possible, I would have to run from all real life and avoid all real responsibilities. Strength is, in part, being willing to love and lose or love and never be accepted, or love and be hated in return. “The more I love, the more I be hated”. II Corinthians 12:15 — And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
Nor is strength somehow being able to love, lose and feel happy in the midst. John 11:35 Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.
I once went to the funeral of an uncle who died young and his loving wife was trying to demonstrate God’s strength by smiling and saying that God gave and God took away. True, but she seemed to believe that meant that she should have no emotions. We Christians grieve, we just grieve with hope.
STRENGTH=caring passionately , being willing to hurt to weep, to be jailed, and even die for another but not being damaged or lessened in the process, and by God’s grace not falling into sins such as bitterness or despair.
So where do I find the strength to admit my weakness, be vulnerable, get involved, hurt, weep, but still grow in the process and resist sin? The power comes from God and he is my example, for he made himself vulnerable to pain and even death for my sake. Yet he was in no way made less or damaged in the process. Instead the angels marvel at his ability to become small, suffer and overcome. I Corinthians 2:3 —And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. Ephesians 6:10 –Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Hosea 11:7 –(God speaking) “I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. (Can you feel his pain?)And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
Strong weakness should come easily to me. I don’t have to work to be weak. I just have to work to remember that I am weak and to rejoice in it.