We live in a time where personal strength, hustle, and a “never-give-up” attitude are championed. As a mom of five, two of whom are girls, I have noticed that there is a pervasive message of “You are strong enough to do anything” and especially, “Girl Power!”
Strength of course is wonderful, and we all know that life is tough and that we need endurance to make it through successfully. But today I’d like to suggest that we look at strength not as the world sees it but in light of God’s Word. The Kingdom of God is a very upside-down sort of place, and in order to find strength, we must go about it in a completely opposite sort of way.
One of my favorite guys in the Bible is Paul. He was simply amazing! He endured so much suffering and hardship, yet, he was strong and was powerfully used by the Lord to spread the gospel to many places. And Paul has a lot to say about strength.
Let’s look at what Paul says about strength in three of his letters, the books of Ephesians, Philippians, and I Corinthians. Before we look at what he says, let’s remember that Paul wrote two of these from his cell in a Roman prison. Being a prisoner in Ancient Rome was no cakewalk. Conditions were unimaginably cruel, and the inmates suffered hunger, illness, and loneliness.
Yet Paul had learned in his weakest, darkest moments in this Roman prison about the strength of God.
Paul had learned to rely on the Lord’s strength and be completely satisfied. He writes in Ephesian 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (NKJV)
Take note that we are to be strong in the Lord. We are to be strong in the power of His might, not our own. Remember that friend! It is the Lord’s strength, not ours. What a relief.
Building on that idea, now let’s take a look at what Paul said to the church at Philippi. He says in that very familiar verse, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV) Many of us are familiar with this verse and have probably focused on the “I can do all things!” part. But today, let’s look at how we can do all things.
We had first learned that we are to rely on God’s strength and might, and again here we are reminded that it is Christ who strengthens us. In order to accomplish what God has for us, we need to fully rely on Christ’s strength and not our own.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NKJV)
Is Paul telling us it’s good to get weak? What?! Good to be weak? But we try to never get weak. We find ourselves in circumstances where we are relying on our own power and not the strength of God. We’re constantly trying to be strong, to not show weakness, and to uphold everything with our own strength. As I mentioned, we live in a time when weakness is looked down upon and personal strength is celebrated. But let me repeat Paul: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
It’s our weakness that becomes the catalyst for the Lord’s power to shine through.
When we are trying to carry everything on our own shoulders, we will never experience that type of power because we are operating in our own strength. The power for the Christian comes in that weakness and that vulnerability, falling at the feet of the Lord and saying, “Lord, I can’t do it. This is too big for me. But it’s not too big for you.”
Anytime we hit a low moment in our life, we must first and foremost draw strength from the Lord. We must humble ourselves, go to Him, and get really weak. Then, He can display His power and might in our lives and accomplish His will. Today, let’s remember the upside-down truth that we are strengthened in Him when we first are weak.
Prayer to pray:
Lord, I am not strong enough on my own. I simply can’t do it. So I need an enabling power of your grace to go beyond my ability. In the midst of my difficulties, I want to find satisfaction in you and in you alone, not in anything else. Help me to find joy in You and not in anything else. Give me Your strength and endurance in You and in You alone, God. I am weak, Lord, but you are strong. I cast all of my cares upon you.
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.