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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 05/09/18

Failed Strength

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STORY: Don’t Fail at Failure!

You may not know it to look at me, but this frumpy-dumpy middle-aged woman has a background in powerlifting. I started working out in the football team’s weight room during study hall my senior year of high school. This alone is laughable, considering I wasn’t in athletics, and truthfully didn’t even get the “easy A” in gym class. Five years later, I joined the Y and had a professional bodybuilder as my trainer. The goal was never to pose, but to see how strong I could become. I have good genetics and tend to build muscle easily. I love lifting heavy weights! One thing I learned was a technique called, “lifting to failure.” Rather than doing more repetitions at an easy weight, you pick a heavier weight and do full range of motion reps until your muscle quivers and fails to do the lift. Then you know you have maxed out your muscle’s potential for the day. Obviously, this is best done with a spotter, or at least not overhead!

I’m back to lifting weights, and I love gaining strength. The goal is no more frumpy-dumpy. But more than that, I’m growing my spiritual muscles too.

Every once in a while I’ll test my muscles to failure. And every once in a while, life tests my inner-person to failure too. The more I build up my God-muscles, the more I can handle those life tests.

Let’s see how people in biblical times handled times when their strength failed.

STUDY: When My Strength Fails

If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (Proverbs 24:10 NLT)

  • When I came upon this verse, I had to wonder what it was getting at. I went back and read the verses before and after it in Proverbs 24 and found no clues. It’s a stand-alone verse on this topic. So let’s evaluate it based on what we know from the rest of the Bible and from human nature.
  • We can measure our supply of strength by how we respond to pressure. That is when we are truly tested. Think of your last pressure test—how did you react or respond?
  • We know from other Scripture when our strength is too small — it is because we’re relying on self-strength rather than God-strength.

My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind. (Psalm 38:10 NLT)

  • Many say this Psalm was written as a biographical look at David’s life. This passage alludes to the suffering he experienced in old age. Taken at face value, it reminds me of several diseases, including hyperthyroidism.
  • When your strength fails you, do you lament to the Lord and list your symptoms to Him?

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:26 NLT)

  • In contrast to the verse above by David, this passage is a psalm of Asaph.
  • In this passage, Asaph shows he might have bad health and his inner man might feel weak, but God strengthens Him. The spiritual aspect shores up the rest of him—making him a survivor.
  • How does the fact that God is yours forever (and you are His) help you to find strength despite physical or inner struggling?

My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. (Psalm 22:15 NLT)

  • This passage has been tied to a prophetic reference of Jesus during the crucifixion.
  • Have you ever felt like your strength was dried up? How does it influence your spirit?

I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. (Psalm 31:10 NLT)

  • How do sadness and grief affect your wellbeing?
  • How does sin affect your strength?
  • Have you ever felt like you were dying from the inside out?

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:10-11 NLT)

  • According to this passage, what happens when you help those who are in need?
  • What does light do when you are around others who are void of light?
  • When you are an others-focused person who shines light, what does the Lord do for you?
  • Sometimes the best way to find guidance for your own life is to help someone else. Then you are actively in God’s presence in such a way to be aware of His guidance.
  • When you feel dried out (see the Psalm 22:15 reference above), God will drench you with His refreshing water.
  • When you need restored strength, what does God give you?

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. (Isaiah 40:29 NLT)

  • I find it interesting that it doesn’t say God gives power to the powerless and strength to the weak. Since this passage doesn’t state the obvious, it makes me want to dig in and pay attention!
  • What do strength and power do for you when you feel you have none?
  • How do you think God’s strength and God’s power differ from any you might try to work up on your own?

STEPS: Growing God Muscles

  1. Leave it all. “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” (Isaiah 49:4 NLT)
  2. Put your inner grin on! “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)
  3. Remember where your strength comes from. “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! (Psalm 121:1-2 NLT)

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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