- I Have to Be Strong
- Isaiah 40:30-31; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
- Lyndol Loyd November 24, 2019
This morning we are wrapping up our series, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves;” as we do, I want to ask you to consider something – a lie believed as truth will affect you as if it were true.
For the past few weeks, we have been looking at some different lies that our spiritual enemy, the devil, wants to use to keep us from experiencing life in all of its fullness that Jesus Christ came to offer us.
In John 8:44, Jesus is speaking, and He states, “He (the devil) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Today, we are going to look at one of the most common lies that our spiritual enemy wants us to believe, and that is the lie that we have to be strong, we have to hold it all together. If it’s going to be, it’s going to be up to me. We have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We have to work harder; we have to perform; we have to produce. We have to be strong.
What we need to do is replace the lie that we have to be strong with the truth found in God’s word. Jesus gives us the answer for this lie in John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” That is our purpose this morning, to see people set free from the lies that we tell ourselves. But in order for that to happen, it is going to require us to be brutally honest with ourselves. As we walk this through, we are going to have to be willing to acknowledge, “Yes, that’s me. I identify with telling myself this lie. I have lived as though I believe the lie.” As it pertains to the lie that we have to be strong, it would seem to me that there are certain categories of this lie. For some of us, it is that we believe we have to be emotionally strong.
How many of you know someone that you love that maybe is really emotionally weak? They are struggling, and you feel like you really have to be there for them. How many of you say there’s someone like that in your life?
Children sometimes feel this way. Maybe their parents’ marriages are struggling, and the children feel like they have to be strong for their parents. “If we work really hard, we can help keep their marriage together.”
Parents will often feel that way for their children, “Man, our marriage is really messed up, but for the sake of the children, we have to hold it together. We have to be strong.”
Sometimes, maybe deep down emotionally, we’re afraid, and we feel vulnerable. By golly, we don’t want anyone to know it. Why? We believe that we have to be emotionally strong for others. I can’t help but wonder how many feel they can relate to the idea that they feel they have to be emotionally strong?
Some of you might feel like you need to be provisionally strong. Let me give you an example of what I mean by this. Many of you can relate to this. “Someone’s got to run the household. We’ve got to keep everything in order. If I don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. Have to keep food on the table. Have to keep these babies’ little bottoms clean. Have to feed everybody, make sure all the laundry is done. I have to balance the checkbook. I have to keep the yard done. I feel the pressure to get it all done.”
Many of you will feel the financial provisional pressure, “We’re struggling financially. Maybe I ought to get another job. I should be better at budgeting. How are we going to do this with all these kids’ activities? Things are so difficult right now. What happens when they become teenagers? And braces? And automobiles? And college?” How many of you feel like you have to be strong provisionally?
Some of you might feel like you need to be spiritually strong. Maybe you are one of the few Christ-followers in your family, and you feel like you have to carry the weight spiritually. Maybe you have a lot of people that you love that are not Christ-followers, and you feel as though you have to be a good witness and say the right things to them, and have to pray the right prayers.
Maybe you are the only Christ-follower at your office, and people are looking to you. A lot of them would love to see you mess up and you feel the pressure.
Or, you may be a Sunday School teacher or Bible study leader, and you may be afraid, “What if they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to? I have to keep up the illusion of being spiritually strong.”
How many of you say that you can relate to that? You feel like you need to be spiritually strong for others.
The last group, maybe you think you have to be professionally strong. Some of you have jobs that you hate and you work with crazy kinds of people. You feel you have to endure and be strong even though you can’t stand your job. Others of you would say, “Oh, no, my pressure’s different. I feel like there’s a big weight on my shoulders, and if I don’t get it done around here, it’s not going to happen. If I under produce, it could affect a lot of people. There’s a lot riding on my performance.” I wonder how many people are feeling like they have to be professionally strong?
The good news is this, while Satan wants you to believe the lie, “I have to be strong,” Jesus wants to reveal the truth to you. When you experience the truth, the truth will set you free.
The bottom line is, no matter how strong you are, your strength is limited. Eventually, you run out. Many of you, if you are honest right now, would say, “That’s where I am. There’s more than I can handle. I’ve got too much going on. I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done, and I’m not.”
You feel pressure and guilt, “If only I worked harder, was better, could be a better parent, a better spouse; if only I could be a better provider, a better Christian. But there’s just so much going on, and I don’t have the ability to get it all done.”
Hear this; you are not created by God to have all the ability in your own strength. Your strength is intentionally limited. However, God’s strength is unlimited, and that’s why God wants us to not depend on our own limited abilities, but to do life empowered by His unlimited spiritual power.
I’ll explain it like this: Back when I lived in Orlando, a friend and I were driving back from a meeting when all of a sudden I experienced a blowout on my front driver’s side tire. I did my best to get the car safely off the side of the road. I turned my flashers on, hopped out of the car, surveyed what had happened. No problem. I can handle this. I dug around in my trunk, found the jack and the tire tool, and promptly went to work.
I attempted to loosen the lug nuts on the tire. Nothing. Nada. No movement at all. I couldn’t get the lug nuts to budge, not even a bit. I thought, “I know I haven’t worked out in a really long time, but surely I still know how to change a tire. This isn’t exactly rocket science.”
Keep in mind, my friend, who is a retired woman, is standing on the side of the road watching me embarrass myself with my inability to remove a tire. About that time, a Florida Department of Highway Safety truck pulls up. The driver, who is a big, ripped, muscular man, hops out of his truck and asks if I could use some assistance. At his point, I’m relieved to have someone there who can help me, but I’m also starting to feel doubly embarrassed that I haven’t been able to get the tire off. Now Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s body double is going to have to save the day.
He takes one look at my dinky little tire tool and says, “Just a second.” He comes back with an industrial-strength tire tool. “Let me give this a try.” He gives it a go with a professional tire tool, and he can’t get the lug nuts to budge.
This is how sick my mind is, I feel validated. I’m looking at my poor friend who is stranded on the side of the road with me and thinking, “See, even ‘Muscles’ couldn’t get it loose!” My pride has been preserved.
Then he returns to his truck, cranks up an air compressor, comes back with a tool that looked like something from a NASCAR pit crew, and gets the lug nuts loose and the tire off just like that. I’m worshipping God on the side of the road. A few quick moments later, my spare was on the car, and I’m on my way home.
I’m here to tell you, God as my witness, if the road assistance man hadn’t come along who knows how long I would have been on the side of the road. There were two kinds of strength – standard little tire tool strength and air compressor strength.
Many of us are doing life out of our own limited strength, and we are frustrated, worn out, and can’t get it done. There’s limited human strength, and there’s unlimited strength from God.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah states, “Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).
The Hebrew word that’s translated as youth is talking about the Greek Olympic athletes. So when he says youth, what he’s saying is the best of the best, the strongest of the strong, even those people get tired.
Here’s the lie: You have to be strong. You have to try harder. You have to be better! If you just cared more, if you were more faithful, if you just worked harder at it, then you could get it done. That’s what the father of lies wants you to believe.
Here’s the truth: You have to be weak, broken, vulnerable, and dependent. You have to be weak. The apostle Paul learned this, and we see God’s lesson in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. The context of the story is, Paul had something that was driving him crazy. He called it a thorn in his side. We don’t know what it was, but we know it just bugged him like crazy, and he begged God to take it away. Paul begged Him again and again to take it away. For some higher purpose, God left it there. In Paul’s desperation, God spoke, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul went on to say, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul is talking about embracing our weaknesses.
What weakness do you need to embrace? I want you to think about that. You don’t have the strength to pull off what you’re trying to pull off right now. You don’t have the strength for your schedule. Some of you are trying to hold the marriage together. You can’t do it. God has to do it for you. You’re trying to get your kids back to doing the right thing. You can’t change people. Only God can. You’re in a financial hole. You gotta get out of it. Only God can do it. You are not created to do it on your own. I have to be weak. So do you.
God’s divine influence is exactly enough to meet your every need, for His great power is made completely perfect in you when you are broken before Him. Your spiritual enemy would love for you to believe that you can be stronger, that you can work it out, that you can pull it off. You can’t.
I have to be weak, and so do you. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing, for it’s not by our might, it’s not by our power, it’s not by our efforts, but it is by His Spirit.
At the end of your strength, God’s strength and power are ready to kick in. Others of you, like me, you believe a lie, “I’ve got to be better, I got to be this, I got to be strong, I’ve got to pull it off.” You are not created by God to do it without Him. It’s time to believe the truth, “I have to be weak.”