What is strength?
Is it being able to lift crazy amounts of weights and pull busses?
Is it being able to jump higher and throw harder or carry a bigger burden for a team?
Is it being able to overcome a disease or get healed because of your studly response to medications?
Is it being able to bear burdens?
These may all be true, but because of my hospital work I ask it differently.
Is it a 15 year old boy whose body is failing and yet manages to smile, joke, laugh, love lemons and billy goat, and love his family more than anything in the world?
Is it a teenager whose brain tumor will win but whose prayer life and giftedness for music and learning rise above anyway?
Is it a father and brothers who move their own son and brother to the morgue and carry him to his morgue stretcher because why would anyone else do this for their beloved?
Is it a parent who says “Thank God for him/her” and yet still acknowledges that the pain of grief is still there?
I can’t help but find strength in those last questions. They are in fact reality in the last week and beautiful, moving portraits of strength in its real meaning. Strength can be physical sure, but the purest strength I’ve found is the resilient variety. Strength that takes the adversity and deals with it through beauty, laughter, gratitude, and even brutal honesty. It’s strength that overcomes because it refuses to give the last word to death, suffering, and pain. Strength is the straining and striving to define a life by ones personality and not their circumstances.
Thus, to the teenager who I have been referring to, when he took his last breath yesterday, strength was found not in muscle or healing, but in a resilient smile, an ever present family, a proud father, and a family who chose to see more blessing in his life than loss in his death. To that kid and family, strength is found in faith in Christ and faith in their unbounded love. To that kid and his family, death did not overcome. Death hurts, but it did not overcome. No, the boy did, because his spirit remains powerful and inspiring and comforting. The family did, because their boy isn’t forgotten and their love is resilient.
Strength is resilience, even in the presence of fear, suffering, and death.
Strength is Caleb and his family.