How We Usually Think About Strength

God’s strength is a lot different the strength as we normally think about it.

When we think about strength, we tend to think about things like bombs and explosions. We think about nuclear power plants and giant engines that make a lot of noise. We think about dictators and tanks and soldiers. We think about football players so jacked up on ‘roids that they have no discernable necks.

And because this is our image of strength, when we then go to look at Jesus’ ministry to the poor, the sick and the suffering, we have seeing in it anything we would label as strong. 

However, the sunrise offers us a near perfect analogy for how to understand what God’s strength is really like.

If we’re being honest, we’d all probably have to admit that our definitions of strength are shaped more by Hollywood action movies than any sort of spiritual influence.

Gentle Enough for a Baby

The morning that I wrote this – January 30, 2022 –  at 6:59am, the sun rose over the waters of Boston Harbor.

Some rays of light from that sun traveled almost 100 million miles through the great vacuum of space, trickled through the clouds over the harbor, and found their way through the open blinds of one of those ludicrously expensive condos down there in the Seaport District.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: A quick look on Zillow says that it takes a cool 2.5 mill to even break into the market down there!

In any case, those rays of light filtered through those blinds and landed on the face of a newborn baby girl lying in her crib. Feeling the warmth of that light caressing her cheek, she was so ever so gently roused her from her sleep, cooing in that way that newborns do when they’re not screaming their heads off.

If you can afford one of those condos in Boston’s Seaport District, you can surely afford blackout curtains for your baby’s room!

Tough Enough to Reshape the Earth

At the very same moment, other rays of light from that very same sun  traveled that almost 100 million miles, trickled through those same clouds, and landed not on the face of that newborn baby girl but instead on the surface of the waters of Boston Harbor.

And as those rays of light hit the water, they eventually causes the molecules of that water to vibrate with increasing intensity. Essentially that light caused the water to boil, such that, by the end of today alone some 52 cubic MILES of water will be transformed from liquid into gas, and will enter into the atmosphere.

Once in the atmosphere, that water will then get swept up by air currents and moved across the globe, falling in the form of rain and snow and sleet and hail. In some places, it will cause flooding and mass devastation. In other places, it will etch new landscapes out of solid granite. And everywhere it will provide the water needed to sustain the some 8.7 million species of plants and animals that call earth home.

For more exciting facts about the water cycle, check out this super nerdy article from the United Stated Geological Survey.

True Strength

Which is all to say, while we can look at the light gently landing on a baby’s face and say it’s not that strong, we can only say that
because we don’t have the full picture in view. Our perspective is too limited.

In the same way, while the strength of God – as displayed in acts of mercy and compassion, as displayed ultimately in Jesus’ act of self sacrifice on the cross – may look to us to be a very small and insignificant thing. But while it may look to us to be the very definition of weakness.  It’s that mercy, it’s that compassion, it’s that self sacrificial love, that is the very definition of strength.

It takes strength to love your enemies.
It takes strength to reach out to those who aren’t like you.
It takes strength to forgive those who have wronged you.

It’s that mercy, it’s that compassion, it’s that self sacrificial love, that can wrest power from the forces of evil that have hold of our world. It’s that mercy, it’s that compassion, it’s that self sacrificial love, that can make the kingdom of God a reality here on earth.

May true strength be yours!