Strength and Trust

Posted June 18, 2008

A quaint and ancient Welsh proverb states, “Three things give hardy strength: sleeping on hairy mattresses, breathing cold air, and eating dry food.” Today, in our more knowledgeable age, adherence to that proverb would have very few devotees; we would find a more convincing source of “hardy strength” in a daily workout at the local gym. St. Paul would agree, although he would tack on to the advice a simple corollary:

“While physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tm 4:8). He allocates to physical prowess a limited motive, and to spiritual prowess, analogously, a spiritual motive: “Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one” (1 Cor 9:25).

For those seeking spiritual strength, the advice of St. Philip Neri is inspiring for the aspiring soul: “Cast yourself into the arms of God; be very sure that if he wants anything of you, he will fit you for the work and find for you the necessary strength to accomplish it.” His very phrase, “cast yourself … ” shows that he sees a relationship between trust and strength. Trust is depending on God’s strength more than our own when we endure pain, fatigue, rejection, hardship, and toil. The strength we absorb from him is derived from the same strength -enables him to make all things subject to himself (Phil 3:21).

The soul that trustingly casts itself with reckless abandon me arms of God in times of trouble and tribulation, when supernatural strength is demanded, is a soul that understands and experiences what Paul expressed so emphatically: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil4:13).

Fr. John Hampsch “Pathways of Trust”