One of the most helpful examples of this week’s idea that ‘Strength Comes Through Weakness’ is physical conditioning. The way an athlete becomes strong is through intentional weakness.
A conditioning program takes a person through the process of exertion, rest and recovery of muscle groups. The wearing out of muscles builds stronger muscles. Cardiovascular exertion creates more capacity for longer and greater exertion. So whether it’s your lungs or your biceps, you become stronger. This will not happen if you decide to save your energy and strength this year. You must weary yourself to weakness, then strength comes.
Our problem? We don’t enjoy physical weariness and exhaustion. We prefer sitting, eating, sleeping… which are important parts of physical conditioning (rest and recovery), but are detrimental without exertion.
We don’t like the idea of spiritual weariness and exhaustion either, but it is the way to strength and spiritual vitality.
Paul was a sports nut, it seems. He uses sport and physical conditioning as an illustration for spiritual growth.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Paul believed in spiritual training. He encouraged his disciple Timothy to train himself to be godly as well.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
One last thing. World class athletes these days were not born that way. They conditioned their bodies and practiced their sport to exhaustion. With dedication to the process of physical exertion, rest and recovery, they became strong. With dedication to the finer points of their sport, they became skilled. It did not happen overnight.
Being ‘strong in the Lord’ will not happen overnight either. Being a rock and a resource for others in life comes with spiritual maturity. With dedication, humility and exerting yourself to spiritual weakness through repentance, self-denial and prayer, you will become stronger over time. Lent is, by design, a season to do these things as we anticipate the glory of Resurrection Sunday!
What spiritual activity brings you to exhaustion? How do you engage it rather than run from it? Does it make you stronger in the Lord? Share your thoughts in the Comments below. If you have any questions, ask away.
NEXT: Standing Firm