When I think of “strength”, what comes to mind? Muscles. Hercules. Brut force. Maybe pushing and pulling, carrying a heavy load. Sometimes I think of emotional strength. Standing stoically at a funeral. Walking into a first chemo treatment. Testifying in court against an assailant, in front of the assailant. What about mental strength? Taking the bar exam. Performing an 8-hour surgery.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;Psalm 27:8
my heart trusts him, and he helps me.
This morning, I was reminded how many times God is associated with “strength” in the Bible. Countless! I definitely think of God when I think of “strength”, and verses like Psalm 27:8 help me remember that with Him, I can have strength. That is comforting to me…and encouraging.
Do I over-hype strength, though? Am I only looking at strength in a “human” way whereby it takes great muscle, great fortitude, great presence of mind, or a great God to be “strong”?
What if it wasn’t?
What if there was simply strength in getting out of bed? In quiet confidence? What if being strong meant holding your teenager while they cry? What if it meant walking into a room wearing a red dress? What if being strong meant being content living alone in peace?
I wouldn’t want to pat myself on the back if I didn’t earn it, but I don’t want to short change myself either. I’m not sure I give myself credit for the “little” things that might actually be real strength personified. Have y’all thought about this?
Maybe we should celebrate our “strength” in dealing with difficult people, making tough decisions, or delivering unsavory news. Maybe we should realize how strong we were to turn down that invitation, disagree with our boss, or squelch that gossip. Maybe we should see strength in ourselves when we open up our hearts, challenge our own thoughts, and check our own emotions long enough to consider new possibilities and grow as people.
I don’t know. I think strength doesn’t have to always be about physicality and muscles, withstanding tragedies, or pushing through life-altering circumstances. Maybe it’s about smaller stuff, too, that we do every day like taking risks, showing our vulnerability, sharing our hearts.
What I do know is that, it’s certain, God IS strength. The strongest. The mightiest. His strength is great. He even provides for me His full armor, so I can be strong, too. I don’t think that really means strong for only big things, though. I think it means I’ll have the strength to keep my emotions in check and my thoughts from running away with me. I think it means I can carry on each day despite whatever the world has to say or is trying to do (what a mess!). I think it means I can exercise discernment, good judgment, and reason with clarity and conviction IN ADDITION TO fighting life’s major battles and making it through hard times.
I like that. Strength in ALL circumstances. Let’s give ourselves credit. We flex our “muscle” more often than we realize, and we are “stronger” than we think.