This Proverb Puts It Bluntly
There’s a particular proverb that hits me in the face every time I read it. Frankly it’s a little offensive because it’s so direct. It doesn’t mince words or beat around the bush. It just puts it out there.
As many of the proverbs do, this one makes an observation about something that is generally true in life. And this observation, true as it may be, is hard-hitting and convicting.
Verse ten in chapter twenty-four goes like this:
If you fail under pressure, your strength is small.Proverbs 24:10 (NLT)
See what I mean?
There’s no caveat or qualification. There’s no cushy language. It’s just a bottom-line conclusion that if you give up when times are hard, your strength is small. It’s not a personal judgment, but a simple observation that if you quit in the middle of adversity, it tells of your lack of strength or power.
But it’s true. The true test of strength has always been what happens when pressure or resistance is applied. This is true in physics, and it’s true in everyday life. For better or worse, adversity exposes resources and reveals character. It always has and always will.
What does this have to do with us? Quitting has become so prevalent in recent days it now has an official name: The Big Quit. Sadly, quitting has become a way of life. And it isn’t just their jobs that people are quitting. Many of us have also given up on volunteering, on showing compassion to those in need, and on caring about people in general. Some are even quitting the faith and calling it “deconstruction.”
In the words of Thomas Paine, “These are the days that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Paine wrote those words in the American Revolution era, but they fit today as well. These are tough times, and they are taking a toll on our spirits. Difficulties seem to keep coming our way like waves on the beach, drawing down our inner strength in the process.
What will we do? How will we respond? Will we give up? Stop caring? Stop trying? Stop pushing back against the darkness? Stop trusting God?
This is where it is critical to have a source of strength to draw upon that is greater than your own, a reservoir of power that has no bottom no matter how much you ask of it.
Friend, the only such resource is Jesus Christ. He alone can uphold us when we find ourselves at a point where life is testing us at our core. When we are taking blow after blow, only Jesus – the one who died for our sins and rose again – can empower us by His Spirit to persevere through the adversity.
Consider the wording of Paul’s charge in Ephesians 6:10,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
The strength and power that Paul refers to is not natural or human. It is the strength that comes from being united in a relationship with Jesus, the One whose strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). It is the strength that is renewable every single day no matter how hard and depleting yesterday was. It is the power that enables us to get up again after being flattened out by adversity.
And speaking of getting up again, if you read on down a few verses in the same chapter of Proverbs 24, you’ll find another observation. This one is likely to pick up your spirits when you read it. It is verse 16 and it goes like this:
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again…Proverbs 24:16 (NLT)
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.