Bob Tamasy: Discovering Strength Through Weakness

  • Thursday, July 11, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Strength. We admire those who have it, and those who don’t have it desire it. Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a motion picture star and then governor of California, he was a body builder with muscles rippling all over his body. His physical strength translated into prominence in the worlds of both entertainment and politics.

I remember as a boy seeing comic book ads featuring the “100-pound weakling” and how renowned body builder Charles Atlas’s training could transform him into a force to be reckoned with. As a society, and as a nation, we’ve always been enamored with strength: Military might; political power; financial influence; social clout.

But have you ever considered that being weakness – being weak – isn’t necessarily a bad thing?

In many areas of life, the “can-do” spirit is commendable. ‘I can do it!’ ‘I’ve got this!’ But sooner or later we’ll encounter times when our honest response is, “I can’t do this! I give up!” We hate being in that position, but experience has taught me that when I’ve reached the point of “I can’t!”, God is eager to respond, “I know you can’t. But I can!”

I could recount numerous times, at various stages of my life, when I’d reached the end of my proverbial rope. I had tried and done everything I could. Then, out of options and at the brink of despair, it was like God telling me, “Okay, now see what I can do.” As lo and behold, as old versions of the Bible would say, I found the Lord truly doing “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Sometimes He met my needs by working through me; sometimes He did it in spite of me. Many times God’s message to us in times of crisis is, “Get out of the way and watch Me work.” In circumstances like these, He showed me that self-reliance isn’t the path to spiritual growth and maturity.

Toward the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ taught His disciples a crucial lesson, using a grapevine as a metaphor. He told them, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing…. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:5-8).

We enjoy looking at fruit trees and the different types of fruit they can bear – apples, oranges, peaches, grapefruit. Their fruits hang gloriously from the tree limbs, but the limbs by themselves can accomplish nothing. They must be attached to the trunk of the tree, from which they literally receive their life and productivity.

It’s the same for followers of Jesus. We can strive as hard as we like, but without His Spirit working in us and through us, we can’t achieve anything of eternal value.

The apostle Paul knew this all too well. As Saul, a leading Pharisee zealously persecuting the pesky “Christians” who were viewed as heretics, he had often flexed his strength and influence physically, politically and religiously. However, after His life-changing encounter with Jesus enroute to Damascus, he was undone. God was about to teach him about a very different kind of strength.

Years later, writing to believers in ancient Corinth, Paul stated, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But 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…. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

This wasn’t just a one-time observation either. Writing to a different group of Christ followers, Paul reflected on the various hardships and challenges he had faced and then declared, “I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Are you facing something today that has taken you to your limits, beyond your capacity to handle or resolve? If not now, maybe you will tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Sooner or later such times come to us all. We can shake our fists and curse the devil, but that doesn’t do any good. Those are usually occasions when we can truly experience God’s power at work, building our trust and deepening our faith in Him.

At times such as those, we have no choice but to apply the truth of what both Jesus and Paul asserted: “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” As the apostle noted, weakness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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