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The Myth of My Strength

The Myth of My Strength

Do you think of yourself as a strong or a weak woman?

Personally, I’ve counted myself a strong one.

I was the girl who ran around flexing her biceps, challenging boys to arm-wrestling matches, and re-arranging my heavy bedroom furniture all by myself.

I was the young woman who had a scheduled activity on her calendar every night of the week. I was the woman who wrote a book on the side while continuing to work full-time. I was the woman who always, always pushed through.

But then last month I had an Isaiah 40:30 fall,

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.”

My doctor said I was strong to have made it as long as I did.

I wasn’t so sure.

God, do You think of me as weak or strong? And how should I think of myself?

Taking Cues from a “Strong” Man and a “Weak” Man

I went to God’s Word for answers, starting with the strongest man I could think of: Samson. You know the beast—tearing a roaring lion to pieces with his bare hands, striking down 1,000 enemies with a donkey’s jawbone, pushing down a house killing 3,000 party-goers.

Here’s the surprising pattern I found. Just before Samson displays great strength, this is what happens just before:

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:6).

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:19).

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 15:14).

It was always God’s strength Samson displayed; never his own. God is the strong One. Even Samson was weak apart from God.

Then I re-read the familiar story of David and Goliath. Anyone observing the battle scene that day would’ve put their money on the intimidating war champion Goliath, not the young, inexperienced David. Goliath had complete confidence in his strength; David had complete confidence in his living God. And at the end of the short fight, David was the unlikely victor.

I Am Weak, but He Is Strong

Funny how many times I’ve gotten it mixed up. I’ve considered myself strong and believed God to be weak. Nothing could be further from the truth:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28, emphasis added).

God’s strength will never, ever give out.

Me on the other hand, I’m weak. My strength is finite.

What freedom that realization brings.

Strength comes when we first own up to our own weakness. (That’s ’cause we don’t rely on God when we consider ourselves strong.) But in our weakness, as we depend on our strong God, His strength flows through to us. Catch Paul’s personal testimony of this:

“We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:8–10).

And then there’s my favorite passage from this past month,

“He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:29–31).

How is this strength-for-weakness exchange possible?

Strong Made Weak; Weak Made Strong

It’s all because the Strong One was made weak so we, the weak, could be made strong.

Check out this baffling verse:

“The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25, emphasis added).

The weakness of God? But God isn’t weak!

Study the context, and you’ll see this verse refers to the cross. The world judges Jesus weak and pathetic, hanging there exposed and bleeding. “Weakness,” they spit.

But to us who are being saved, we gaze at the cross and celebrate. “Strength!” we shout.

God refuses to save Himself so He might save us. The Strong One is made weak so we, the weak, can be made strong.

What weakness can you boast about today? How might God want to showcase His strength through your particular weakness?

Don’t get it mixed up like I did.

I am weak, but He is strong.

The Myth of My Strength” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

The Deadening Dailyness of Details

The Deadening Dailyness of Details

A few months ago, my creative boss asked me and a few other employees to spend twenty minutes or less writing a poem about why we do what we do.

I groaned.

What working girl has time to write poetry when her inbox is spilling over with emails and deadlines? Besides, my last attempt at poetry wasn’t pretty (although it was memorable!):

A man was in a mine
He tripped on a vine
He really quick got up
And tried to find his cup . . .

But my boss said it didn’t have to be perfect, so I just wrote from my heart.

And when I finished, I was surprised and grateful for the exercise. Because most days the deadening dailyness of details clouds my vision and I forget.

But yes, that’s right! This is why I do what I do:

Most days I drag myself out of bed
grab an apple on the run
lower my shoulder to the Mac
and grit my way through email
and space dot space dot space dot ellipsis
their faces gray and unformed and far away.

But on occasional days
I see them
Ann locked up in bitter prisons of the heart
Jenny searching desperately for soul rest
Aisha wrapped in hijab, eyes blinded, serving a dead god
their faces soft and flushed and hungry.

And I wonder at this high calling
serving the WORD with each word
that, if Spirit-drenched, can point to Him
whose face is bloodied and tear streaked and warm
carrying all their sins and griefs and sorrows
if only they will let Him.

April is National Poetry Month, and I’m issuing my boss’s challenge to you. (No groaning, now!)

Why do you do what you do? I know you don’t feel like you have twenty minutes to write a poem, but even two is just fine. You’ll be glad you did! Because whether you’re a Classical Conversations homeschooling mother or an architect creating a design concept on the thirtieth floor, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18).

Ready, set, rhyme.

The Deadening Dailyness of Details” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.