Bob Tamasy: Strength, In All Of Its Weakness

Monday, June 26, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Since the cardiac rehab center I used for the past 10 years closed, I’ve changed workout venues and undertaken a new fitness regimen. In the process, it’s caused me to think a lot about strength – what it is, and what it’s not.

Strength holds a lot of different meanings for folks. The word may cause us to think of the muscle-bound person that makes the free weights and weight machines in the gym cringe. Nations boast about military might, implying their enemies don’t dare try picking a fight. In sports, we often hear talk about “strength in numbers.” Businesses refer to “core competencies,” meaning their products, services and strategies that are the strongest.

I once heard a guy describe growing up in a female-dominated household.
He said his mom was “strong as an acre of garlic.” (I’m not sure she was still alive to hear that description – but I do recall seeing him look over his shoulder as he said it.)

Bold criticism used to be defined as “strong statements,” but these days it seems everyone’s making comments that are bold, or brash, or bewildering. When everything that’s being said is “strong,” doesn’t that really mean that nothing is strong?

Which provides a segue to my topic: Can strength become a weakness? We need look no further than the RMS Titanic, the supposed “unsinkable” passenger liner that came out a poor second in its encounter with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, costing more than 1,500 lives.

We have many biblical accounts of people weakened in moments of strength, including Samson, whose legendary strength seemed uncontainable – until he was seduced into revealing the source of his power. Strong and revered King David, called “a man after God’s heart,” caught a glimpse of a lovely young woman on a rooftop one evening, and his subsequent actions resulted in a series of tragic consequences.

More than one pastor has strongly asserted, “one area I will never fail is in the area of relationships,” only to leave the ministry in disgrace due to sexual sins. This is one reason the apostle Paul offered this word of caution: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Strengths can work to our benefit, but they can also lead to overconfidence, complacency, and self-destructive pride.

“The flip side of any strength is its weakness,” I once heard someone say. I’ve experienced that myself. Friends sometimes call me an encourager, but one of the greatest temptations I face is succumbing to discouragement. Just as coaches and managers in sports scout for weaknesses in strong opponents, maybe we need to “self-scout”’ to discern where our strengths might leave us vulnerable.

Looking at the converse of this is interesting. A weakness can actually become a strength – especially when we’re aware of it and deal with it appropriately: We can try to work on that area and strengthen it. We can strive to avoid situations where the weakness is exposed and can be exploited. Or better yet, turn to another source of strength. 

The apostle Paul had been a proud, militant religious leader, persecuting and seeking to annihilate followers of Jesus Christ. However, after his life-changing meeting with Christ on the road to Damascus, the apostle recognized the weakness of his zeal and “strength” in opposing Him. He wrote about a “thorn in the flesh” that plagued him the rest of his life, an undisclosed affliction that ensured his humility.

Paul said three times he pleaded with God to remove the “thorn,” until he realized it was a blessing and not a curse. “…he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Seems to me what Jesus really wants is not followers who flex their own muscle and resolve, but ones so in tune with their weakness and insufficiency that they constantly call upon Christ to empower them to do whatever He calls them to do.

As Paul wrote a bit earlier, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). Maybe if we become weak enough, we’ll see God exerting His strength through us in ways we could never have imagined.

----

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Christmas Eve Candlelight Service At First Baptist

Brigham Young's Great-Granddaughter Passes Away In Chattanooga

Bob Tamasy: Got Spurs? Let Them Jingle, Jangle, Jingle


The Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Music will be presenting its Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Monday, Dec. 24, at 6 p.m. at First Baptist, E. 8th Street. ... (click for more)

Mrs. Ruth Card Ashby, great-granddaughter of Brigham Young, peacefully passed away on Monday in Chattanooga. She was 101 years old. Brigham Young was known as the Great Colonizer of the American ... (click for more)

Pardon me for showing my age, but I’m reflecting on the “good old days” when I reveled in the Saturday morning cowboy shows on TV – in living black and white, no less. Characters like Roy Rogers, ... (click for more)


Church

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service At First Baptist

The Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Music will be presenting its Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on Monday, Dec. 24, at 6 p.m. at First Baptist, E. 8th Street. The candlelight service is under the direction of Mr. Michael Mitchell. The hour will be filled with a repertoire of songs and arrangements, including those written by Dr. Roland ... (click for more)

Brigham Young's Great-Granddaughter Passes Away In Chattanooga

Mrs. Ruth Card Ashby, great-granddaughter of Brigham Young, peacefully passed away on Monday in Chattanooga. She was 101 years old. Brigham Young was known as the Great Colonizer of the American West, and second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He supervised the trek of thousands of religious refugees across the western frontier of the United States ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Ooltewah Residents Ask Sewage Treatment Plant Go In Meigs County Instead; WWTA Says Growth To Be Stymied Without Plant

An overflow crowd of Ooltewah residents opposed to a sewage plant "in their back yard" recommended on Wednesday that it go further north, perhaps Meigs County where TVA is building a major power center. Officials of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) said Mahan Gap Road is the best location and least expensive. Without a new plant, development ... (click for more)

Earthquakes Hit Tennessee Valley Early Wednesday Morning

Two earthquakes happened early Wednesday morning just north of Chattanooga, awakening many early in the morning. The earthquakes registered at 4.4 and 3.3 magnitudes at 4:27 a.m. Some people felt them in North Chattanooga and Ooltewah. They were also felt as far away as Atlanta and Nashville. A St. Elmo woman told of the sewing machine that she uses as a night table by ... (click for more)

Opinion

Alstom And Tubman: A Tale Of Two Sites

The former Alstom industrial site on the riverfront and the former Harriett Tubman housing site in East Chattanooga both have a lot of redevelopment potential. And yet the city of Chattanooga seems to view them quite differently. Alstom is the fair-haired child; Tubman is the forgotten child. The Alstom area was recently designated as an "opportunity zone" in a new program ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Best Breakfast Ever

As I have grown older, I have grown more peculiar. I love having so many wonderful friends who I’ll see out in the mornings, all hail and hardy, but most of the time I enjoy having breakfast by myself. Hear me out: whether it is the Cracker Barrel, the Bluegrass Café or any number of other places I enjoy, most often there are delightful people who invite me to share their table ... (click for more)