You’re Killing Me
I’ve never heard a doctor say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“It was touch and go for a while, but now that the heart attack is over, you should qualify for the Boston Marathon.”
“I’ve got great news. You tore your ACL, MCL, LCL, and a few other ligaments which will probably be named after you in the next round of medical journals. I’ve already alerted the Chicago Bulls of your improved vertical jump.”
“You lost a lot of blood. If the ambulance would have been two minutes later, you wouldn’t have made it. I need someone to help me move this afternoon and, given your recent increased muscle density, I’d love to have you help. I’ll bring pizza and a six-pack of a barely-non-lethal dose of arsenic.”
Don’t get all bent out of shape, Kelly Clarkson fans. If you’re a Friedrich Nietzche fan, feel free to get all bent out of shape. He’s the one who originally said “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Apparently, he also pioneered No-Shave November.
I understand that the now-too-trite statement is referring to mental strength and resolution of spirit not physical strengthening. Oddly, that phrase is what popped into my head when I read 2 Corinthians 5 this week. Not because 2 Corinthians 5 speaks of gaining strength through difficulties but because it says something completely different:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight.
-2 Corinthians 5:1-7
The Biblical perspective of enduring hardship is not “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”