“I give thanks to Christ our Lord who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry…”1 Timothy 1:12 (HCSB)
It’s a little known fact that of all the coaches on a football staff, the strength coach is usually the one with the most contact with players. He doesn’t see just one position, or just the offense or defense, he sees the whole team and he sees them almost every day. Strength. Can’t win without it. Maybe that’s why, when Paul recounts his testimony to Timothy, the first thing he does is is give thanks for the strength of the Lord. Maybe he knew, I think he knew, that apart from God’s strength revealed in his life, he’d be lost forever in every way imaginable. Yes, in Paul’s life God’s strength was on full display, and that has great value for us today because from that we can learn how God is at work lending strength to our own lives. Strength we have already received, but often fail to perceive. So here are three ways God’s strength is revealed to us today.
The strength of the Lord is revealed in salvation. Paul was literally going door to door through the streets dragging Christians out of their homes when Jesus Christ intervened in his life to show him the error of his ways. In Paul, Jesus took the strongest persecutor of the church, broke him completely, and turned him into it’s greatest defender. That revelation didn’t end with Paul, though, it is equally revealed in the life of every Believer. Everyone who follows Christ has a story to tell of what He has done in their life, and in that tale is strength.
The strength of the Lord is revealed in service. Anyone is capable of doing good works. Let’s just be honest about that. There are lots of good charities out there doing great things that have nothing to do with Christianity. But when we serve in the name of the Lord, the character of our labor–what we do and how we do it–reflects on Him. The reason hospitals exist today, the reason we have public education, the reason slavery was ended in Europe and America, is because the people of God, following the precepts of God began doing the work of God. And all of those good works bear his name. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that even most of the non-Christian charitable work can be attributed to values that find their roots in Jesus, His strength changing the world.
The strength of the Lord is revealed in suffering. Imagine a word without Christian missions. No Soul’s harbor. No Watered Gardens. No Lafayette House. No Mission Joplin or Rapha International. No food banks or benevolence from any local churches. No orphanages. No… The list of charitable missions done in the name of Jesus is enormous. And none of it would exist if it weren’t for God working in the hearts of his people encouraging and equipping them to help the afflicted and downtrodden, the sick, the homeless, the suffering. And every time those people are helped, his strength is on display.
And God’s strength is also revealed in our own suffering, not just the suffering of others. When we ourselves turn to him and are helped, it demonstrates his strength. When our addictions are beaten, when our relationships are healed, when our prayers are answered and our needs–whatever they may be–are met, God’s strength is demonstrated in our lives.
But why does that matter? It matters for exactly the reason Paul is bringing it up. It matters because in a broken world filled with broken people, hope is hard to come by, but when we look to the cross of Jesus Christ, that’s exactly what we find. Hope. His strength, revealed in so many ways in our lives and through the church, is able to do more than all we could ask or imagine. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that. Sometimes we need to remind someone else. At all times it’s worth remembering.