Real Strength

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Original photo by Steve Hillebrand 

Daily Reformation, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

From the Reformer

The school theologians have a fine similitude hereupon, that it is as with a sphere or globe, which, lying on a table, touches it only with one point, yet it is the whole table which supports the globe. Though I am an old doctor of divinity, to this day I have not got beyond the children’s learning — the Ten Commandments, the Belief, and the Lord’s Prayer; and these I understand not so well as I should, though I study them daily, praying, with my son John and my daughter Magdalene. If I thoroughly appreciated these first words of the Lord’s Prayer, Our Father, which art in Heaven, and really believed that God, who made heaven and earth, and all creatures, and has all things in his hand, was my Father, then should I certainly conclude with myself, that I also am a lord of heaven and earth, that Christ is my brother, Gabriel my servant, Raphael my coachman, and all the angels my attendants at need, given unto me by my heavenly Father, to keep me in the path, that unawares I knock not my foot against a stone. But that our faith may be exercised and confirmed, our heavenly Father suffers us to be cast into dungeons, or plunged in water. So we may see how finely we understand these words, and how belief shakes, and how great our weakness is, so that we begin to think — Ah, who knows how far that is true which is set forth in the scriptures?

—Martin Luther, Table Talk

Pulling It Together

The children were bragging about how strong their fathers were, one boy shouting his was much bigger, only to have the other shout back the strength of his own. As is often the case, their final boasts about their respective fathers came to their own knuckles. One wonders, when the fight was over, did any child discern that they had actually proved nothing about their fathers. They were only trying to boast about themselves from the outset; they could never prove a thing about their fathers; thus they shouted and fought.

The Christian is also left with the same situation. She can certainly make claims about her Father but she can prove nothing by shouting and fighting. Her strength is in the weak position of resting on her Father’s promises. The more she clamors about her rightness or superiority, the less effectual becomes her claim to the Family. If she walks away from the fight, she is imagined to be weak. But the scriptures tell her she is strong by her Father’s strength alone.

Determine to let your Father be your strength. He will be — and you will be amazed at the power, though you may have to rest in apparent debility in others’ eyes, for they have no power to perceive such mysteries. The Word is unwavering in this: that the father is strong in your weakness, no matter what the world comprehends.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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