You're not as strong as you think

In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, there have been thousands of incredible and heartbreaking pictures flooding the internet and our TV screens of the devastation and human suffering in that country.

On January 19th, CNN published a set of photo’s on their website which painted a stark and disturbing picture of the state of the country both in terms of the buildings and infrastructure and by way of the state of the newfound poverty and desperation of the people there.

I invite you to go look through the pictures before reading the rest of this post but I will warn you in advance, some of the pictures are VERY disturbing and sickening and you should not visit this link if you find pictures of death and disease too emotionally, mentally or physically disturbing.

See the CNN pictures here.

I do not have the words to describe what I see in some of those pictures. The human toll of the earthquake is incredible. The latest estimates I’ve seen put the death toll at over 150,000 – although how it’s possible to accurately measure such numbers in a situation like that is beyond me,

One picture though really stood out to me. Second to the bottom of the sixth page, lies a photograph of a man apparently crushed to death by a falling building.

Now, I know nothing about this man but it seems to me that he had a strong, muscular body – and it’s probably not too much of a stretch to think that he was proud of his strength and muscle tone.

It’s most likely that nobody knows how this man came to be inside the building that ended his life. Maybe he ran in to rescue someone. Maybe he had been upstairs and hadn’t been able to get downstairs and outside in time. Maybe he was asleep. There are so many possible reasons why but there’s one fact that remains:

No matter how strong he was, no matter how fast, no matter how fit and healthy, he was no match for the deadly power of a collapsing building.

You see, no matter how hard we work, how much we try to be healthy and maintain our strength and vitality, we are, ultimately, frail, helpless beings. We are no match for the power of the forces of nature. We are tiny compared even to the things we build ourselves.

We are mere specks on this huge planet, which is itself a tiny speck in the universe, which is itself small compared to the immensity of Almighty God.

In life, the man in the CNN picture may have been a hero, he may have been a teacher, a great man but in death he has reminded me of a truth that I too easily forget:

I am only as strong as I give God permission to be in me.

What I think of as strength is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It is only when I humble myself and allow God to work through me, to be strong IN me that I truly have any strength at all.

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

How about you? Do you have an inflated opinion of your own strength? Do you try to do things in your own strength and fail? How easy do you find it to humble yourself enough to allow God to be strong in you?

For some creative ways to give to the relief effort in Haiti, check out Jason and Kevin’s blogs.