Do you think of yourself as a weak or strong person? If it is as a weak person, do you know why? But if it is as a strong person, then what is the basis of your strength? Anyone who derives strength from denigrating others is not to be admired. Profaning the reputation or name of someone else to boost yourself is not only a sign of weakness but there are laws about defamation to criminalise slander and libel. Is it not then so sad to witness the pervasive ‘OMG’ defamation of God in today’s culture? Without a second thought, people trot out ‘O my God’ as part of their language and don’t even notice when their children do the same. What a beautiful contrast it is to hear someone call out to God, ‘O My Strength’ and really mean it. Our lips are made to bless not to curse, to praise not to blaspheme, to build up not to pull down.
- ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’ – Psalm 8:2
- ‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name’ – Exodus 20:7
- ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer’ – Psalm 19:14
- ‘O my strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God’ – Psalm 59:17
Louis Cyr was known as ‘Canadian Samson’ and, apart from his namesake, was the world’s strongest ever man. At just 5 feet and 8 ½ inches, he was recorded as able to lift a horse, a platform on his back holding 18 bulky men, withstand the pull of four draught horses and lift a quarter of a ton with one finger! He died unbeaten aged 49 on November 12th 1912. The Biblical Samson was given remarkable physical strength but his moral weakness was his undoing. At his physical peak, he too was unbeaten as he manifested great feats such as grabbing the city gates to carry them up a hill complete with bars and posts! Trashing his relationship with God in preference for short term passion, he is physically and spiritually blinded. Calling out to God for strength once more, he was enabled to move mighty pillars one last time – what a pity he didn’t make that call earlier as you can read his sad story in Judges 16.
- ‘Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength’ – Saint Francis de Sales
- ‘Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength’ – Arnold Schwarzenegger
- ‘A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles – Christopher Reeve
- ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength’ – Corrie Ten Boom
- ‘I don't have the strength or wisdom to get through a single day without guidance and grace from God’ – Tony Dungy
If you have had to face your own mortality for more than a passing glimpse, you will know that Death has not a pretty face. It is however one that makes you think about the ground on which you stand ‘in extremis’ and then to discover whether it is in fact solid rock or sinking sand. Both the prophet Daniel and the apostle John had visions of God that sapped their living strength but they were renewed: ‘My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe. Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength’ – Daniel 10:17-18. It was the apostle Paul who learnt that God’s grace is sufficient for our weakness and that his power is made perfect in our weakness: ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’ – 2 Corinthians 12:10. These lessons are easy to recite but it is hard to learn this contentment beyond our own strength. Every obstacle, burden and hardship that you may be facing is an opportunity to discover or rediscover this truth, even if it is not immediately apparent.
- ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’ – Psalm 27:14
- ‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ – Isaiah 40:28-31
- ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ – Nehemiah 8:10
- ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – Mark 12:30
Our place on the pilgrim journey does not exempt us from trials but it assures us of the Lord’s presence to strengthen us every step of the way. As we love him with all our being and our strength, so we find his strength is renewed in us. Perhaps Jane Fonda’s exercise adage has a spiritual application too: ‘No pain, no gain!’ With the strength of the Almighty, you can find yourself mighty in and through weakness.
- ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him’ – Psalm 28:7
- ‘The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights’ – Habakkuk 3:19
- ‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ – Philippians 4:13
- ‘O my strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God’ – Psalm 59:9
True grit and true strength is shown in trust and keeping eyes on God rather than being overwhelmed by circumstances. It is a person without firm foundations whose weakness is shown in profaning God’s name. The next time you hear a person of any age say, ‘O my God’, why not inwardly call out, ‘O My Strength’, and pray for that person that they might see God’s gracious strength at work in and through you.
TAGS – patience, favour, establish, might, hope, endurance, illness, sickness