Has it ever annoyed you to hear “Keep your chin up!” during a time of extreme pain or sorrow? As if adjusting body position could comfort you in your current circumstances. It seems silly, unless you were a girl who grew up during the time where we were forced to do the flexed arm hang in gym class.
In my 1-12 grades in public education, we had to meet physical requirements in Physical Education class to receive a Presidential Patch.
The standards were high, even for a tomboy like me.
We had to do sit-ups, jump rope, 50 yard dash, 880yard pant-a-thon, stretch against a yardstick and a few other things I can barely remember. The worst was the dreaded flexed arm hang.
I usually could make the criteria for each of the other items, but the flexed arm hang was a killer. It was always the last event on the list, too, so I knew the coveted blue patch with the embroidered gold Eagle would be mine, and only mine, if I could keep my chin above that bar for over a minute. Maybe it was three minutes. All I know is that for several years this event kept me from winning.
In high school, I was competing against the other smallest-girl-in-high school, Barb. We both did a bajillion sit-ups. We both ran like the wind. We reached, hopped and jumped through all the hoops the President set. I never could figure out why he cared how many sit-ups I could do, but after seeing his picture in the news, I was pretty sure I could do more than he could.
Then, the final event, the flexed arm hang. I can still see her face while she hung on and on and on and on. She was athletic, flexible, fast, cute, and apparently, strong enough to beat the school record for the flexed arm hang.
The stakes were high.
My turn at the bar came and I hung and hung and shook and hung and hoped I didn’t smash my chin against the bar. Several times I had to pull myself back up as my chin neared the metal enemy.
It wasn’t pretty, seeing me almost cry while clenching a bar high above the gym floor (high to me, I wasn’t even 5 foot tall yet), writhing in agony and knowing those who weren’t cheering me on were mocking me. At this point, I thought the president was ridiculous. I KNEW he couldn’t do this.
The gym teacher held a stop watch in her hand, her thumb on the top button, waiting to mark my failure. She called out the time occasionally enough, which made me clench and stretch and shake even more.
Finally, I dropped. I couldn’t win. I couldn’t keep my chin up.
I qualified for the President’s approval, but I couldn’t beat Barb. I didn’t have enough strength.
Everyone agrees that when an athlete fails, they need more practice.
Why don’t we think the same in Christianity?
Why do we blame the Lord when we fail to walk by faith in our trials?
The Lord calls it as it is.
But, He doesn’t just leave us hanging, writhing and clenching our teeth in pain as He points out our weakness.
He offers us His strength.
He doesn’t just offer His strength, He exchanges it for our weakness.
The failing is on our part, for not taking what’s offered.
Are you barely keeping your chin above the bar of adversity? Are you shaking and trembling in your circumstances?
This is where spiritual life is better than gym class. Someone is offering to lift you up above the bar.
The weakness of faith is from us, not from the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus.
If you’re fainting, and your faith is small, let Him perfect your weakness into His strength.
He will help you keep your chin up.