When you think of “strength”, what comes to your mind? Most of us probably think of someone like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That guy is caught. On a good day he can bench 450 pounds. This is the weight of an adult male tiger. Rock’s physical strength is no joke. People who have seen Encanto recently may think of Luisa, that she could take over an entire church and move it. Strength is how much weight you can carry, how much you can bear.
Another thing that comes to your mind when you think of “strength” is what you are good at. Feats or skills you excel at. My strength is music, sports, math, etc. To be strong you have to be good at something.
It is not wrong to speak of strength in this context. I would describe The Rock as strong. However, these definitions only scratch the surface of what true strength is.
If you look at the scriptures, you will see that they have a completely different approach to strength. Most people have heard of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is that Bible verse that Christian athletes or influencers sometimes share on social media. There is also Nehemiah 8:10 where it says “do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Exodus 15: 2 with “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” For women, there is Proverbs 31:25 with “Strength and dignity are her clothes, and she laughs in the moment to come.” My favorite is Isaiah 41:10 with;
“do not be afraid, because I am with you,
do not be dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will support you with my victorious right hand ».
These are many different Bible verses, but they all say similar things. That we get all our strength from God, from Jesus Christ. This captures much more than typical visions of force are. With that, strength is just what we’re good at or what we can handle, it’s something much deeper.
Strength is our ability to recognize and rely on God’s grace in our daily life.
The Rock is extremely strong, but he is able to get that strong because God allows it. You see, without God we wouldn’t be able to do anything, not even exist. Whether we realize it or not, every action we are capable of doing is because God is pouring his grace and blessing upon them.
If strength is our ability to rely on God, how does God want us to grow in strength? It’s easy to say that strength is our ability to rely on God, but what does it look like in a practical sense? There are many traits that signal strength, but there are three that I want to focus on
A truly strong person is someone who is
Let’s analyze those traits, shall we?
The first is audacity. A bold person is someone who is willing to do something others would not even think they are doing and is willing to speak out about difficult issues that no one is willing to face. A strong person will make bold decisions when no one knows what to do next.
The opposite of audacity is complacency. A complacent person doesn’t do that little bit extra and is fine to limp into mediocrity. This is not strength, because he is fine living in idle comfort instead of doing what should be done.
To grow boldly, you need to be willing to do more than the bare minimum. Take that hike along the long trail. If you see your friends misbehaving, step in and tell them to stop. Approach the new guy who just moved in and is having a hard time making friends. Do things that make others uncomfortable but worth doing.
The second is courage. Courage is the ability to face fear or pain. A brave person still feels fear and pain, but don’t let that stop them from doing what needs to be done. I’ll steal a line from Newsies’ song “Seize the Day” with “Courage can’t erase our fear, courage is when we face our fear.” A strong person will face fear and risk to do the good that needs to be done.
The opposite of courage is cowardice. Cowardice is pulling back from something out of fear. Strength goes beyond fear and, as such, cowardice can never be strength.
To grow in courage, be willing to do things despite the risk of pain or suffering. Go on those roller coasters your friend loves. Have that difficult conversation with a friend. Pray in front of the abortion facility. Be willing to put aside your fear to do the things that are worth doing.
Now we have confidence. Trust is the ability to trust in your actions because you trust God’s will. A strong person has full confidence in God’s plan and uses that trust to move forward. You will notice that all three of these traits work together. Trust is having full confidence in your actions and knowing that they will lead to good things.
The opposite of trust is doubt. Doubt is a lack of confidence in God’s ability to work through you. This lack of trust prevents people from doing difficult things. By doubting the grace of God, the strength of the source is effectively cut off from the individual.
To grow in confidence, remind yourself of God’s grace whenever you find yourself in uncomfortable circumstances. If you are facing a really difficult test, if you are going on a mission to a place you have never been, or if you have to give your testimony to people who may despise Christians, remember that God is with you at that moment, giving you the strength you need.
Strength is much more than what the world calls it: Strength is found in full trust in God’s love for you, and that love should always be the motivation and reassurance of your actions.