Sunday, December 8, 2013

Not Stronger

Not Stronger
December 9, 2013
2 Corinthians 12:9  ". . . for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I've often heard people say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  This is not true; in fact it is heretical in nature.  The actual phrase, "that which does not kill us, makes us stronger," was written by Friedrich Nietzsche (pronounced Knee chee).  Although his cognitive abilities were impressive, devoting his life to the study of philology and philosophy, he was not a Christian.  In fact, he grew up in a religious environment, only to turn away from anything faith-based in exchange for pre-modern existential reasoning.  Nietzsche was an atheist who declared outright that there is no God, and even called himself, "the Anti-Christ."

His famous quote makes you ponder, if something emotional or physical didn't kill you, then it stands to reason you might actually be stronger for it, able to bear up under it again easier the next time.  After reading through Scripture this does not compute correctly, though.  Nietzsche is suggesting you can actually handle something on your own, fighting through it, struggling to come out on top and are better for it.  But this is not how any of us can come out on top of a difficult situation.  We do not struggle on our own, making it through difficulty based upon fortitude or brute strength.  We are able to handle the difficulties in life successfully only through the power of Christ that is living in and through us.

If we have wrestled successfully through a struggle, it is because Christ has given us strength.  The Apostle Paul calls it his strength during weakness.  He recognized humans are frail in comparison to the Lord.  He calls us to draw upon the strength of the Lord when we are weak; this is when the Lord is made strong in our lives.  If we have weathered through anything successfully, it is because of the Lord's strength, not our own resolve.  If left on our own, we may survive difficulty but come out an altered person.  Struggles can leave a person paralyzed emotionally and physically; this isn't anything like Nietzsche's "stronger."  If we draw upon the strength of the Lord, we can come through difficulties with a stronger testimony.  In fact that is what the Lord loves about enduring difficulty with us.

He loves the opportunity for our weaknesses to point to His strength and create bragging rights for His successes in our lives.  Paul writes that this should be our goal, to rejoice in our weakness so that Christ can be made strong.  If you think you can weather anything alone, coming out stronger, you are working too hard.  For starters there is a good chance you'll have limited success.  Secondly, it is WAY easier to trust in the Lord's strength and experience to help carry you through life.  If and when you come through difficulty successfully, you've gained experience in placing the situation in the Lord's hands.  The realization then is how to put the situation in the Lord's hands sooner.  Your goal is not to be stronger but to be weaker, trusting in the Lord's strength.  If it doesn't kill you, it should teach you how to be weaker.

By the way, Nietzsche spent the last part of his life mentally ill, having lost his mind.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Ps 84:5-7, Phil 4:12-13, 1 Cor 10:13, 1 Cor 15:42-44, 2 Cor 12:1-10, 2 Cor 13:4

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