The Physical Therapist is the motivator for those who have lost the full use of their motor skills — for those who do not have the strength in their muscles to
perform some function(s) and have often lost their belief in their ability to cope or perform. The Physical Therapist,
by encouraging exercise, often through excruciating pain, builds strength in those weak parts and enables an
individual to perform tasks more fully and to become a more functional human being.
This morning, the thought came to me that God is our “Spiritual Therapist” building strength in areas of weakness – exercising and motivating, through the continual pushing beyond what we think we can bear, sometimes through excruciating pain, God develops in us an awareness of the strength that is there for us to draw upon to “run the race” we are called to run and to bear up under the trials we must face.
The analogy starts to break down here. While the Physical Therapist motivates an individual to develop and become aware of his own strength, God motivates and pushes us to develop our faith and awareness of HIS strength that is reflected through His people. So that Paul could express what we all should understand, “. . . My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9). And the writer of Hebrews gives us examples, “. . . For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: with faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” (Hebrews 11:32-34). [emphasis mine]
It is interesting to me that we will normally recognize and appreciate what the Physical Therapist does for the person needing to re-establish physical strength, but will rail against our Spiritual Therapist and the “exercises” He allows us to go through. We will applaud the first tiny response of a person going through physical therapy,
but belittle those first sometimes unsteady and awkward spiritual responses both of ourselves and others. Instead of viewing ourselves and our inherent weakness, we need to be focusing on the strength God is displaying through us. We must become so assured of His faithfulness and so confident that His desires for us are for our good that we drop the blinders of pain that make us see ourselves as “victims” and see the awesome hand of God at work in our lives and on our behalf in every situation.
If we put ourselves in Joseph’s situation, can we not see ourselves focusing on our innocence, on the injustice being inflicted upon us, on the sinfulness of his brothers and their lack of punishment, and on the questioning of a God who would allow this to happen to a “good” person? Yet, because we can read the account in its entirety without having to suffer through the actual “stretching” time, we can see God’s hand and we can see God’s bigger purpose to provide for His people in a time of famine while also developing a faith (an awareness) of God’s plan and confidence in His provision for the
individual as a reality in Joseph’s heart. This is so clearly reflected in Joseph’s response to his offenders, “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me’. And they came near. And he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; . . .” (Genesis 45:4-5, 7-8).
Joseph did not allow the pain of the experiences nor bitterness toward the tools God used to bring him to Egypt and eventually to the role of leadership to blind him to God’s true purpose. He saw and acknowledged that it was God whose purposes had been served, not the evil intentions of his brothers. And, because he saw God’s hand in it, he did not hold bitterness nor demand punishment of his brothers, even though they obviously were guilty of abusing their brother.
And so I believe it is in my own life. If I can but allow myself to see the higher purpose which can only be viewed through a trust in God’s great faithfulness, then nothing can come upon me to deplete my strength . . . because it isn’t my strength that has been developed, but an awareness of God’s strength working through me. And, it isn’t my strength that is being drawn upon, but God’s unlimited power flowing through the door of faith into my heart, my mind, and my body, and flowing out of me as confidence in the outworking of God’s plans in my life, even if I don’t understand. Therefore, not in my ability to cope, not in my strong will, not in my intelligent response to anything, but in my availability to God will I find reason to boast.
(April 28, 1992 – 5 a.m.) Jeanne Hicks Barnett