In high school I was a distance runner. I would run on the cross-country team in the Fall and for the track and field team in the Spring. Our training involved running every day. Another part of training was hitting the gym a couple times each week. Every time I entered the gym I dream of what it would be like to have muscles and be strong.
Many of us wish we could be strong. It takes a lot of discipline, dedicating yourself to continued time and effort. You can’t quit training once you start. If you aren’t purposeful in continuing your strength will waste away.
Though our television shows, movies, magazines and the internet are full of well-toned bodies, the majority of us are not. We gave up on the routine, or never started it all. As a result we are weak. Strength and muscles remain a dream. But there’s more to strength and weakness than we realize.
During my running years I would look around the gym guys and gals lifting weights with various techniques and goals. Even as teenagers they sported arms and chests exploding with muscle. They were football players, swimmers, shot putters, other runners, and those who enjoyed working out.
A friend of mine was a pole vaulter. In one corner of the gym were a couple of practice poles, standing vertical, anchored to the wall. I didn’t have a clue what they were until he went over one day, grabbed hold of one, and proceeded to walk up the wall. Then he held himself out horizontally for a few seconds before landing back on the floor.
Here were all these dedicated strength trainers, and I was just there doing my routine. No muscles popped off of my chest. My only real strength was, and still is, in my legs. Other than that I was just 100 pounds of weakness.
Weakness’ Reverse Angle
Have you ever wished you could be strong? If lifting weights and bulging biceps isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you just wish you could walk across the room or lift a jug of milk without being in pain. The strength you long for could be more emotional, strength of the heart. Or perhaps you’d like to be mentally strong. Rather than finishing a race or lifting a great weight, you’d like to be able to stand up against the pressures and bullies of life.
Do you see “strong” people and wish you were more like them? “That guy over there. I wish I was built like that.” “Now she can handle anything. I always fall apart when stuff happens.”
Our world rewards and recognizes those who have strength. They win awards, trophies and medals. Strength gets people ahead of their competitors and through to the finish line. Those who are weak are ignored and despised. They don’t have a chance.
It is strange to hear, but the Bible says weakness is better than strength. It is isn’t encouraging to eat a ton of Twinkies and give up on health. But it does encourage us to find a greater source of strength than you’ll find at your local fitness center.
[tweetthis]There’s a greater source of #strength than you’ll find at your local fitness center. #Jesus #life[/tweetthis]
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).
[The Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9–10, NIV)
Paul said he delighted in his sickness, troubles and weakness. Other translations say he took pleasure in them. Folks might think Paul needed some extra medication after hearing that. Who enjoys troubles or pain? Isn’t that some kind of disorder? Yet Paul delighted in his difficulty.
Those problems pushed Paul closer to Jesus, and in Jesus there is only strength. Paul didn’t enjoy the pain and suffering. He faced harassment, liars, jealousy, hatred, stonings, shipwreck, and his mysterious “thorn in the flesh” from the Scriptures in his second letter to the Corinthians. It wasn’t the pain he enjoyed, but the strength of Christ alive in him during those difficult times.
The Strength of Jesus
We need to be reminded that Jesus didn’t die on the cross because He was weak. He freely gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He could have called a legion of angels, but He was committed to the plan the Godhead wrote before the foundation of the world, a plan He helped form. Jesus wasn’t delivered to the Cross by the Father, but pursued the Cross, endured it, “scorning its shame” because of “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2).
Consider all Jesus endured on Good Friday. Could a physically weak man endure it as Jesus did? Beaten, whipped, tossed around, forced to carry a cross for miles, and hanging up in the air, struggling for every breath. He must have had tremendous physical strength.
And if Jesus was strong before He died on the cross, how much greater is His strength today? Our Lord has conquered death and the grave. He rose again, glorious, sitting now at the right hand of the Throne of God in Heaven. What weakness is found there? What unfathomable strength He promises us!
[tweetthis]#Jesus conquered the grave, sits beside the Throne of #God in Heaven, & offers Heaven’s #strength[/tweetthis]
If we were strong and able to win at everything, what need would we have for Jesus? Even Paul had to be blinded and knocked off his chosen path before he would listen to and follow Christ.
So many of us believe we have all we need to survive this life. We have our own resources we work hard for. We’re smart enough and strong enough to make it. But the truth is we are all weak. In a hospital or nursing home it’s more obvious than at the country club or the corner office.
None of us, though, are truly strong. There isn’t enough resources or effort or intellect to carry you through. It doesn’t matter how good you are at hiding it. You are weak.
God says it is better to be weak. Only then can His strength be our life. The life we will live in weakness is the life of Christ living in us. It will be an abundant life no thief can destroy and no rust can tarnish. Nothing can conquer it or tear it down because it is anchored in the victorious Rock of Ages.
Our eyes will then be on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We’ll live for the One who pursued a cross so He could have us. And like the joy set before Him, we will find joy in the strength of the Lord.