Finish this sentence: I wish I were strong enough to . . .
Proverbs 31:25 says that the woman of God is clothed with strength. So secure, she laughs at the days to come. When she sees trouble, she says,
- “And the problem is?”
- “Bring it on. I’m ready!”
- “I’ve got this!”
Would you like to be like that woman? Does that sound remotely possible?
Yeah right. Pipe dream. Strong enough to laugh at a coming onslaught? That would be nice. You call that strength? Isn’t that a touch of crazy?
Yes. It’s strength.
We often think of strength in terms of physical prowess. But the women among us know that strength is far more than doing a 90-pound bench press or 100-pound overhead lift. Strength is making it through to the finish line and not quitting until you’re done. It’s the ability to stand firm. To push back on the troubles that threaten to knock you down.
When and where do we need to be strong? The Bible brand of perseverance is not merely the ability to put in 15-hour days without sweat, tears, or achy feet. Bible strength calls us to stand firm without faltering, to come out on the other side of a crisis smelling like smoke but uncharred and still moving forward. It’s the ability to keep calm when everyone else is getting sucked into the drama.
The poet Rudyard Kipling described inner strength well in his poem, “If”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.”
I think Mr. Kipling nailed it. You can read the rest of this wonderful poem here.
We should seek to be strong enough to:
- face a debilitating illness
- Care for someone with a debilitating illness
- Stand up to those who opposes our faith
- Talk back to a bully
- Talk back to someone who bullies our child
- Say NO to that piece of chocolate or flattering invitation from the opposite sex
- Keep on being kind to the grouch in your life.
April and May of 2019 were some of the toughest months of my life. Two dear girlfriends were in deep trouble. My husband had spinal fusion surgery that kept him in the hospital for ten days and at home for weeks. Did I feel strong? Are you kidding? I was tired, sleep deprived, and soul weary. I still remember the morning I walked into a room where a group of church ladies were sewing. When someone asked me a question, I dissolved into a wavering puddle of tears. As a minister’s wife, I felt like I had to be strong for everyone else, but inwardly, I was beyond fragile. How could I possibly clothe myself with strength?
Here’s what I did to cover my weakness with strength
The ladies of the sewing circle told me I needed to take better care of myself. That advice was incomplete. I didn’t even have the resources for self-care. I learned to ask for help to do the tasks I could not do on my own and to be transparent about my weaknesses so close confidantes could pray specifically for me. We cannot do this life thing by ourselves. If you want to stay strong, link arms with others. Solomon was right – a three stranded cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). We need each other.
We only become better at whatever we attempt when we do it on a regular basis. That includes soul endurance. Train yourself to say no.
Do push-ups at the table. Push up and away from that second helping. Do it whether or not you need to count calories. Do it as a way to train yourself in self-restraint.
If you need more patience with that Sunday School class of rowdy fifth grade boys, practice daily patience with your own ten-year-old at home. I’ve often said that family life is boot camp for the rest of life, for it gives us experience in handling people in their worst moments in a private environment.
Staying strong when everything is going well will make us ready for the unpredictable moment when the tsunami-sized crisis heads toward us. That’s why the Proverbs 31 woman can laugh at trouble. She’s already resourced to handle it.
You are stronger than you think. While my husband recuperated, I discovered I could do all kinds of things I didn’t think I could do, like unstopping a clogged sink, putting a shelf back in my cupboard, or depositing a church offering at the bank. Just do it! You’ll never know how strong or capable you are until you lift that barbell.
Hang on to Jesus.
I am weak when I am by myself, but when I cling to Jesus like a branch connected to a vine, His strength passes through me and I can do anything through Him (Philippians 4:13).
Connecting to Jesus must be an everyday commitment. Because of the strong pain medication and his oscillating blood glucose levels, my husband’s moods and irritability swung precariously during his recuperation. Each morning, I never knew what mood he would be in or what demand he would levy at me as soon as he woke up. I learned to start each morning crying out to God, “I need You.” While it was sheer desperation then, I still have that need. There is no morning that I can say, “I’ve got this on my own, Lord. I don’t need You today.”
I – and you too – cannot do this life thing without Jesus. Admitting our weakness is not weak – it is strong and smart, for we show we know the source of our strength.
We can trust God to be that source because we know all of life is in His hands. Nothing can shake us because He is in control. From the starting line of the race, we know He loves us and will ensure we cross that finish line. Anything we do from start to finish in His name will not be wasted. We may not see the impact of what we do, but God in His heaven is making sure it has impact. That gives us hope. And hope gives us strength.
My Army Captain daughter told me this about Army life
The Army uses one or two-word slogans as affirmations to build up the teamwork spirit of the troops. It’s cute! We got to watch this in action when she drove us on post one day. The enlisted soldier at the fort gate looked at her I.D., saluted, and then said the fort’s chosen slogan.
One of my favorite slogans is “Army Strong.” When I checked the definition of Army Strong for this article, I was blown away. The definition is exactly what women and men of God should seek as they clothe themselves with God’s strength.
“Army Strong is more than an individual Soldier’s strength; it’s the teamwork of a well-trained squad executing actions on contact. In short, Army Strong is far more than two words; it’s the underlying moral fiber, the deep-seated emotions and the total determination every Soldier carries.” – Why Army Strong
Today, let’s be “Mama-Strong.” Better yet, to include the single women among us and yes, the guys too, let’s be “God-Strong!” Let’s be so unstoppable that we can, like the Proverbs 31 woman, laugh at oncoming trouble. After all, what is there to fear? Through the power of Christ, we’ve got this!