Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope, so to speak? Or worse yet, past the end of it?
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. With all the upheaval of the last few months, to say I’m overwhelmed would probably be an understatement. Yet, when asked if I can continue or perhaps give just a bit more, I find myself responding truthfully, “Yes. OK.” I feel like Jim Carrey’s character in “Liar, Liar” when asked if he could continue his case in court after being brutally beaten by “a mad man” (himself). Unable to lie, his face shows absolute incredulity as he answers, “Yeeesss…” because even he cannot believe that his answer is true, despite knowing he cannot lie for the time being.
Incredulous is an accurate description for that feeling – at the end of your rope, suddenly finding a hidden reserve of strength that you’re sure you didn’t have before. Or did you? Where does this secondary fortitude come from? Has it been there all along, or has it suddenly come to you in a time of need? I think perhaps the answer may be both.
Often, we underestimate our own strength. We tell ourselves as we see the trial unfold, “I’ll never make it through that.” Yet somehow, we do. Perhaps even as we are telling ourselves we can’t make it, we are actually planning ahead mentally for how we can make it. Or maybe at the point where we thought we’d crumble, we tap into that hidden reserve of strength. Perhaps the we hide this reserve so deep in ourselves that we don’t realize it’s there because of a very natural desire to never need it. What normal person looks for trials, just so they can show off their inner strength? Or maybe this secondary fortitude comes from a different source altogether.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10, New International Version
Could the source of this power be God? In difficult times, many often pray for strength or help to endure. Is the answer to that prayer this previously unknown fortitude we find? I believe that to be so. But let’s not cut the hand of God short. There are many ways He can answer our prayers for help. Perhaps a friend reaches out to us at just the right moment. Perhaps someone else needs our help, and our efforts in that direction help us to pull ourselves out of our own misery. And maybe, just maybe, we are the answer to their prayer for help.
Sometimes, just being aware of the trials another person is facing and watching them meet these trials with grace and quiet fortitude helps us to meet our own problems in a similar way. It may also deepen our appreciation for the person who has modeled these behaviors. It may add a wider scope to Plato’s words, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
So, as you fight your hard battle, show some kindness and consideration for those around you who are fighting their own.