Do I consider myself strong? Nope. Not at all. Wimp might more appropriately describe me. My grip, for example, is quite lame. I’ve learned the “bang the cap on the counter edge to loosen the seal” trick. That usually helps. But it only works with metal caps. Getting the plastic lid off a new container of apple juice poses a greater problem. I’m not sure what the manufacturers are thinking when they cap those containers, but I’m fairly sure there are plenty of high-fives and cruel laughs that accompany each pallet. And when a toddler wants apple juice, he cannot understand why Mimi is so slow. When Papa is home, I know how to remove the cap. I give it to Papa. He usually breaks the seal and loosens it before handing it back with a “here, I think you can get it now” challenge. Each time he helps me lifts him higher in hero status to both me and the grandkids. Papa is strong – at least a lot stronger than Mimi.
I admit that I have a bit more strength in my legs than in my arms. In gymnastics, for example, I never worried my legs would give out, but I was constantly concerned my arms might fail me. Halfway through a stunt, the arms matter. A lot! But a good punch from the legs could assure a greater percentage of success – and fewer rough landings, face plants, and injuries! (And for those of you who notice verb tense, there is a valid reason why the verbs referring to gymnastics are in past tense and the verbs referring to opening apple juice containers are in present tense. Mimi leaves the handsprings to the grandchildren now.)
In my study of Psalm 96 today, a phrase gripped my attention. The psalm describes the importance of praising God and shows ways I can do so. According to verse seven, I am to praise Him with strength. As I pondered this, I realized if it were only by physical prowess I could praise Him, He wouldn’t receive much from me. But it is God Who has given me power in my body, whether it be great or limited. And with what He has provided, I can praise Him.
I can praise Him while performing my daily responsibilities. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31) A lazy effort, a sloppy performance, and a griping and mumbling attitude have no place in my spirit if I am doing all to honor Him. With the energy and strength He has provided me, I can work diligently to accomplish all He desires of me. Since He created me, He knows what I can do. He will never require more of me than I am able to perform with His help. I find it necessary to ask His help each morning in order to achieve my fullest potential in the seemingly mundane chores of the day. With His help, though, even mundane and trivial tasks performed with strength can glorify God. Through Him, I can carry out my daily chores with enthusiasm and excellence. In this way, I can glorify God with my strength.
I can also praise and honor Him with strength of character. Strong character is demonstrated in numerous ways. It is seen in doing what is right in God’s eyes regardless of the consequences. It is seen in regarding the good of others higher in my priorities than my own desires. When I set aside the concerns of the day, no matter how tight my schedule is, to read and study God’s Word and to faithfully attend church, I am showing strength and glorifying Him. Sharing the good news of God’s unconditional love with all those around me demonstrates a strong and godly character. Being kind to those who do me wrong shows a strength that only God can provide. Keeping my mouth shut when I’m tempted to share the latest gossip is further evidence of strong character. (And at times I believe it takes a whole host of angels to prevent me from telling what I know!) No matter who is watching, whether it be in a crowd of observers or alone under the all-seeing eyes of God, I can honor Him with strength of character.
So can I praise God with strength? Yes! With the strength He provides me, I can honor Him. Without that strength, I can do nothing. Just as Papa provides physical help with a stubborn lid, and strong legs provide help with a stunt, I need God to help me daily. When I acknowledge His help and strength in every area of my life, I glorify Him.
“He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increase the strength.”
Praise the Lord!