I continue to read through Proverbs and Psalms, alongside other Bible reading. Recently, Proverbs 24:10 troubles me, like a pebble in my shoe! Here’s how it goes…
“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”
We all know that the Bible commends perseverance, enduring through tough times. For example, Paul famously says that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7). And in Romans 5:3-4 he explains that Christians can “also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
So as the Proverb says perseverance, or as we might call it, ‘stickability’, is a really good thing.
But such a Proverb might also deflate us, because all of us struggle at times. So are we weak?
Indeed, Job’s miserable comforter Eliphaz almost throws the proverb in Job’s face, after his multiple losses and bereavements.
“Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed. (Job 4:4-5)”
I would have thought Job had good reason to struggle! COVID has certainly worn us down terribly. Trouble can make us falter. And it will still be with us in 2021. Happy New Year!?
At this point, there was a nagging feeling to stop trying to tough it out in my own strength.
Using Isaiah’s prophecy about the Lord’s Servant, Jesus described his own ministry this way:
“A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory. (Matthew 12:20)”
The now risen Lord Jesus cares deeply for the weak and injured. So perhaps Paul best captures the paradox of persevering in our weakness…
“But [the Lord] 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. That 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 12:9-10)”
Whatever 2021 holds, and despite our own weaknesses, in the Lord’s great resurrection strength, we do not need to falter or be afraid.