Welcome to Welling. This is for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. My series is called “The Strong Weak.”
During a time of great anxiety, of lethargy, of exhaustion, we can go through what the Greek fathers called, acedia. Acedia they listed as part of the deadly sins, in addition to gluttony and fornication and anger and avarice and sadness. Acedia captured something where these wonderful, resolute, isolated monks began to feel that, after conquering everything else, they still felt a lack of motivation. A lack of inspiration because of the surrounding situations.
I have a friend who is one of the great leaders of the faith, who tells me that, because of grief, he doesn’t have a care or concern that makes him get up and act. He needs to find a strengthening in himself.
Did you know that social isolation, physical isolation, emotional isolation that we have been experiencing all across the world during the time of the pandemic, can lead to a kind of an anxiety and a depression, an experience which can be called acedia.
One author who has written about it says, it can’t be named easily, but it can be communicated and shared. This terrible sense of feeling a lack, an inability to get up and keep going. So he actually calls it this long, dark teatime of the soul.
I am dealing with two verses in the book of Hebrews. Chapter 12, verses 12 and 13. It simply says, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Those two verses neatly divide into two parts. Verse 12, I’m going to call, strengthen your will. Verse 13, straighten your way.
First of all, strengthen your wills. To strengthen ourselves, the dimension of a personal, spiritual, internal resolve. That we’ve got to find strength because the process demands internal resolve– the progress demands internal strength.
Right now, even the strong among us are made weak. And yet, we are the stronger in the community, if you’re listening to me. You’re the strong among the weak. All are weak, but we are strong among the weak.
So strengthen your feeble arms for the load we must carry– you must carry. Let’s strengthen our feeble knees for the road we must journey.
But the author of the book of Hebrews says, you’ve got to deal with your internal realities. The will, the heart, the evolution, the decision-making processes. Your heart must be steeled up.
Earlier in this beautiful book, he actually encourages us to come to the throne of grace with tremendous boldness. Because at the throne of grace, we will find every kind of help for the exact needs we have at the precise time. So strengthen yourselves with that kind of access and approach that we have.
Personally, in the interior, own your role individually. But the word, strengthen yourselves, comes in the plural. There’s a joint, connected, united effort as well, where we are strengthening one another by expressions of care, of presence, of prayer. Where we are together running the race, we’re walking this path.
Behavioral psychologists tell us that there are three different reasons for old behaviors. What they call a determining reason, a motivating reason, and a supporting reason. I find those in these two verses.
The determining reason for strengthening yourself personally and ourselves together is because we need inner fortitude. But there’s a motivating reason– that we find in the prayer chapter of Hebrews, Chapter 11, the heroes of the faith, where, under massive struggle, they walked the walk of faith. Paid the price of faith in following God.
In the first three verses of Hebrews 12, right prior to these, talks about the Lord Jesus himself as a prototype and the example of endurance. And so we have a motivating reason, but what is the supporting reason? We’ll come to that in the next talk.
You strengthen yourselves, and others will be strengthened. When I think about strength, I define it as both capability and capacity. Capability plus capacity.
Suitcases that I carry on trips, some of them have a lot of capacity, but they’re not capable. They can accommodate many books, but they’re not strong enough to carry them. Other cases I have, they’re very strong, but they don’t have the capacity to carry too many.
When he says, strengthen yourselves, he says, I want you to have both capability and capacity. Where does that come from? From confidence in God, who, in spite of your discipline that he has given to you, you are trained and fortified in righteousness.
Not too different from the declaration of the Apostle Paul, and Philippians 4:13, and that famous verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I have a dozen thoughts about it. If you’d like to receive those dozen thoughts, you can click on the link and it’s straight from Philippians 4:13, which talks about strengthening ourselves in Christ.
All of us are weak. None of us is strong, but among the weak, some are stronger. When the strongest strengthen of themselves, the weaker become stronger.