Strong Man

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 20: 17-19NIV

I have been watching the story of The Mighty Atom, a man who could pull four cars with his hair and bite through chain. He was a diminutive 5′ 4″ and began strength training because he got sick in Suwalki, Poland and the doctors thought he would die within the year. Joe Greenstein chose a different path refusing to accept his fate. The circus came to town, and much like my Dublin Bluebell, ran away with them. He was an amazing strong man.

I, on the other hand, am becoming increasingly aware of my weakness. Being grounded by COVID-19 I spend an hour or so in the garden each day. My back hurts but it is the pain in my arms that is the killer. I have no strength left. It is interesting because I was the one others would give something to open or lift. When I met Sally D. in Heuston Station, (that spawned many stories from her homeless adventures), I was carrying about 15 carrier bags. I looked and felt like a bag lady and yet I could carry them. Now, I can barely carry a handbag. Although I know one day the nice doctors will work out what has happened I patiently wait in my weakness.

It is a great analogy though for my spiritual life. In admitting my weakness, God becomes bigger, becomes stronger and is able to work within me. In Matthew’s account of Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem he pulls his disciples aside and tells them what is going to happen. Condemned to death, mocked, flogged and crucified. Not what a “strong” man would be willing to endure.

And yet the BIG and STRONG Jesus does exactly that. Not alone endured it but willingly went into the drama of Jerusalem. The Mighty Atom could drive nails into wood with the palm of his hands and he could stop an aeroplane from lifting off with his hair but he could not stop the rampage of ageing. Born in 1893, he died in 1977 seventy years after his diagnosis of tuberculosis. Jesus we know died and after three days rose again. He had said, according to John 11,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

In my weakness I lean on God for strength. Reading some extracts of newspaper reports of the Mighty Atom I noticed after the event he immediately left to a private room. As I spend time restricted by COVID-19 I increasingly spend time alone praying to God. Today I shall repeat Psalm 88 a few times.

Dear Lord,

I pray to you this day for protection, I thank you for the breath given to me this day. I thank you for spending time with you this day. Lord, you are the God who saves me;day and night I cry out to you. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. And I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord in this time may your will be done. Amen