A few nights ago, on my way home, my wife and I saw a wreck on the side of the road. It was dark, and no police or emergency responders had arrived yet, so I pulled over to see how I could help. As I approached, I realized that this was no small fender bender but was actually a devastating situation.
A young pedestrian had been hit by a car. She lied there unresponsive while people around her cried and panicked. I have had some basic first-aid training, but this was way beyond my skill set. All I could do was try to calm and console any bystanders.
Thankfully, an ambulance showed up unbelievably quick and took charge of the scene. I made my way back to our car, and as I climbed in, my oldest child was full of questions. I assured him everything was okay, and everyone would be just fine, and that daddy was just trying to help. I tried to use this moment to tell him that we always help people when they are in need.
“What did you do that helped?” he asked. I went a little silent, partly because I was still thinking about the accident and also knowing I had not really helped at all. My wife chimed in and said, “Daddy is really strong and always stays calm when something bad happens. He helps other people stay calm as well. We should be strong like daddy.” I appreciated her kind words, but I knew right away that it was a lie.
I tell my son all the time that Daddy is the strongest. It’s usually in jest when we flex our muscles or when he sees me pick up something that, to him, seems impossible to lift. To a four-year-old, I’m a giant and super strong, but in reality I’m short in stature and would never be picked first to play football.
But still, when we are young, we are all convinced that our fathers are Superman. I love the fact that my sons look up to me, and sometimes we try to reassure them that we are super heroes. But perhaps this does harm in the long run.
I got convicted of this while studying the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins his sermon by describing Christian character often referred to as the beatitudes. It begins by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” The list goes on, and not a single one says “Blessed are the strong.”
Projecting strength and confidence is something we pride ourselves on. We all want to seem emotionally and financially together, even if it is not a reality. It’s unfortunate that this carries over into our spiritual life. We gather on Sunday, and everyone seems to have it all together, everyone seems strong.
But if we are to be authentic in our Christian walk we need to begin to admit the opposite. None of us are strong. I can’t fix a car accident; I can’t protect my family from every storm; I can barely repair our dishwasher let alone provide enough strength and courage to carry my entire family. And most definitely, I cannot save myself from my sins.
Acting like I am strong is the lie I tell the most, and it’s one I believe about myself far too often. This false sense of strength means that I am not seeking God for true authentic strength. I’m essentially settling for counterfeit strength even though God grants us access to the real thing.
As believers, our strength lies in our weakness. The spiritual poverty of the human condition is something that we all share. As believers, we are called to escape this lie and, in humility, turn our weakness over to God, so that He may give us His strength.
In the future, I pray I use such moments not to boast of my strength but to point out what Paul says to the church in Corinth. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Let us be content in our weakness because, as believers, it always points us to something greater – the authentic strength of God.