When our first son was little but “getting bigger” we used to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to him. When we came to the line, “I am weak but he is strong”, our boy would protest, “No I’m not!”
Confidence and pride in our own strength are innate to our fallen nature. We do not like to think that we are reliant on anyone else, for that implies weakness and subordination on our part. We want to be strong. And failing that, we at least want to be seen as strong.
Children want to be independent of their parents. Elderly people want to be independent of their children. Women want to be independent of men. Men want to be independent of … Everyone wants to be self-reliant and strong. No one can bear to be—or bear to be thought of as—weak.
Yet the Bible portrays us as weak through and through. Our physical strength is fleeting, our intellectual strength is foolishness, and our moral strength is fickle.
Only God is strong, perfectly strong. He is the Almighty, and his might is not limited in any way by our physical, mental and moral weakness. Indeed, he declares, “My power is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We do not mind talk about God’s strength so much. It is talk about our weakness that galls. The non-Christian is outraged by it, while the Christian is disconcerted by it. Even with the Holy Spirit’s help, it is a struggle to be able to say truly, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness”
(2 Corinthians 12:10).
The memory of my son’s objection to being called “weak” evokes mixed feelings. I want to chuckle, but somehow it is a bit close to the bone.