September ’21: Finding Strength
By Etana Tam
When we think of the word strength, it often evokes images of power, authority, and dominance. Yet, when we turn to the Bible, we find that the characters that God uses to defeat armies and deliver the Israelites are often not who we would consider to be strong. I think of the image of tiny David against the mighty and gigantic Goliath; I think of a quivering Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress – but these are exactly the characters God uses. Why?
For this month, I was asked to write on the theme of “finding strength.” But the way the Bible talks about finding strength is very counter cultural to what we believe strength should look like. I used to associate strength with self reliance; after all, it is usually the ones who are able to carry burdens and heavy loads alone that are praised for their resilience and strength. What God says about strength however, is the complete opposite of self-reliance; it is full dependency and surrender.
A verse I have been coming back to constantly this past year is Isaiah 30:15 where the Lord says “In returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust shall be your strength.” I love how the words “quiet” and “trust” are used to describe something usually associated with dominance and independence. However, to God, strength is this humble submission to Him, because it requires us to rely solely on His strength. Strength is to be quiet or still before the Lord and trust in His providence and not on our own might. When we go back to David and Gideon, it is clear that all of their strength is found only in God – they did not have the physical or mental ability to defeat anyone with their own strength.
One of my favourite verses come from 2 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul says,
“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.” I love this verse because he makes it clear that true strength can only come from God. It is truly in times of weakness, when we have nothing left, that we rely fully on God and His power is displayed perfectly in us.
Strength to God, looks like humble submission and trust, and maybe, to find strength is to simply seek Him who is strength. It says in Psalm 46 that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” My prayer for us is that we would make God our strength, to turn away from the temptation of glorifying strength that comes from ourselves, and to come to God with full dependency and surrender.