No, I’m not “stronger than I think”

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Also, now you can hover over each reference and read the full verse without leaving the page.

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“You’re stronger than you know”

It’s an encouraging statement that lifts us up and empowers us. Especially when we feel like we’re at our lowest or when we are burned out. It’s a mantra we repeat to ourselves and that other people tell us as well. It’s supposed to encourage us to dust our shoulders off and try again, to keep striving.

And I get it, it’s admirable. And in certain circumstances, that rings true. But sometimes, it’s the very reason why we get even more weighed down by the pressures of life and the fact that we simply don’t have all the energy in the world.

Recently in my quiet time, I watched a brilliant sermon by Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. There was one specific thing about it that hit me in a completely unexpected way. It was something I have never considered before, he said:

“If God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:2-4), then God is a night owl and an early bird…”

And if God is working for our good around the clock, there’s no use in labouring excessively. It’s time to take a nap, sleep, rest. Because God is the one who began the good work and will complete it according to Philippians 1:6… our job is to be the steward and vessel that carries it on His behalf.

This is one of the simplest, but greatest callings of our lives. And it is echoes when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”

Chanting “I’m stronger than I know” puts the pressure back on us. We assume that the solution is to ‘dig deep’ within ourselves and somehow magically draw more energy from an already burned out, pressured and ultimately limited human existence. Sure, sometimes you can push through and surprise yourself, but I wonder, at what cost? And how sustainable is that?

Drawing from Jesus’ well and waters of life

No amount of ‘trying hard’ or being strong-willed can compare with drawing on the wisdom, strength, power, innovation or whatever you desperately need from God’s eternal well. Nothing compares to tapping into the strength of the one that ‘neither slumbers nor sleeps’.

I turned back to my journal and sat with myself as this revelation came to my mind. It occurred to me that maybe I was not strong, I was not a rock, but I was at my best when I built my life on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27). ‘You’re stronger than you know’ is meant to encourage, but it only works for a while. Eventually, these words crystallise into an impenetrable prison where you feel trapped. The concept of the well is something Jesus also talks about in John 7:37-39:

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.

It’s not a one-man ship, it’s a partnership with God

Accepting that we’re not stronger than we know is not about tearing ourselves down, or being weak and powerless. It’s the opposite. It’s an empowering notion because though we have limits, we can draw from the well of a limitless God. This is what it means to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). It’s not about just saying it, it’s about living our lives in a way that proves it.

It’s about relying on the Word of God, the Bible, from the minute our day starts, and creating space in our busy schedules for God to speak to and through us. It’s about knowing the specific promises over your life, and repeating them until they manifest in full bloom.

When I realised this, I wrote these words in my journal:

“I am not stronger than I think, I am fragile, weak and soft — so I need God every step of the way, holding me and covering me. Today, I alleviate the pressure of expectations and ‘doing’. Instead, I choose to relish the simple moments where breath escapes from my lungs because this life is short, like a mist that disappears just as quickly as it appears — so I’m savouring it, no longer pushing myself into pain”.

“I am not the architect of my own destiny, I am a co-labourer with Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:9). I am a co-architect that walks according to God’s timing, and obedience is the name of the game.”

What does this mean for you? Take a moment to reflect and write your own observations, maybe using my journal prompts to help you.

Maybe this is one of the better ways to measure our progress in life: how much we rest and spend time feasting on the Word of God. Because it’s from this place of drawing from the well, drawing from living waters that we find true strength.

Listen online

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Abiola is the author of “Take What You Need” — life lessons and words of encouragement for people who never settle. She is also the creator of CULTIVATE online classes, where you learn How to Eliminate Stress and Restore Balance to Your Busy Life.