Kill Us, Make Us Stronger
I am a fun-sucker. Ask anyone in my family. When we watch movies, I say things like, “That could never happen.” When we listen to music, things like, “That’s not true.” I even turn down the music to lecture on certain topics. So, I am busting at the seams over Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” I like her. I like the song. I sing it out. I just have a problem with its theology — if you care to listen?
“Some perennial weeds have deep root systems that make them very difficult to pull completely from the ground. If any bits of root are left behind, these persistent weeds will sprout again and come back even stronger than before.” -Mike McGroarty
I just want you to know that I’m cracking up right now because this is what I do. If you don’t know my sense of humor, please know that I’m turning down the music and yelling through the car right now, “Do you know what else is made stronger if not killed? WEEDS!”
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)
Die. Die so that you can really live! Let him kill your will. Your want. Life everlasting is found in the submission of dying to self. There is no beckoning to avoid the tragedies in life that may feel like death itself; there is a call to die so that the tragedies in life are under his care with our wills submitted to his.
So, what exactly makes us stronger?
Is it the killing? The dying to self?
But 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
In death we find life.
In our weakness we find his strength.
We’re in a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps-kind-of-world. We believe we can overcome any obstacle if we fight hard enough, and we publicize our words boldly, but we go home and cry because we know it’s not true. Our only hope in this world is to subject ourselves to the only one who can give us strength, the only one who calls us to simultaneously die and live because he loves us enough to sing truth over us.
Now, there is another side to this story. I do believe “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” and if that’s what “Stronger” is trying to communicate, please excuse my rant.