Shout out to Kelly C for backing off the auto tune on her latest release "Stronger," but I must at least list a few things that don't actually kill you, but will in no way make you stronger:
.99 cents a scoop Chinese food
But what do you think? Is Kelly correct? Check out these lyrics from "Stronger:"
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
You might already know this, but the concept behind the title of this song isn't a Clarkson original. In fact, some would argue that the whole "doesn't kill me makes me stronger" dates back well over 100 years ago to a philosopher named Friedrich Nietzsche (Fred-rick Neet she).
Yeah - take that one on in your next spelling bee.
Nietzsche believed (OB-viously) that if one can persevere through the difficult times and trials of life, the end result can often be a strengthening of character and/or endurance.
So apparently Kelly Clarkson, in a post break up state of emotional pain and instability, decided that a little German philosophy from the late 1800s might not only heal her wounds, but could also be the basis of a hit song idea as well!
Perhaps what doesn't kill you can make you…richer?
But I would argue that this idea is much older than our friend Friedrich. See if you agree:
We have this treasure from God, but we are only like clay jars that hold the treasure. This is to show that the amazing power we have is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don't know what to do, but we don't give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies. We are alive, but for Jesus we are always in danger of death, so that the life of Jesus can be seen in our bodies that die. So death is working in us, but the result is that life is working in you (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, ERV).
This was written by the Apostle Paul after he and his friends had endured horrible events like being whipped 39 times, beaten with rods, and left for dead after being buried under a pile of rocks.
Why? Because for Paul, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ was the only reason to live in the first place! So not only did he see that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," he didn't even care if it killed him in the first place. His heart for the lost and his love for the Savior far outweighed anything threat from this life:
I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better (Philippians 1:21, NLT).
And yes, those events should have killed him…but they only strengthened his resolve to share the gospel and live out THE Cause of Christ! The marks on his body and the scarring of his soul helped him connect with the incredible suffering that Jesus endured, and that deepened relationship allowed the love of Christ to shine in his life for all to see.
So what about us? We can take the Nietzsche-Clarkson attitude of "bring it, because if I survive it, I'll grow stronger from it…"
We can embrace our sufferings and setbacks as a way to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and in that deepening our lives will testify to the glory of the Savior and the power of the gospel. When we walk through the valleys of trials, we can know that we are never alone, and we will come out a fighter for the One who chose to die rather than live without us.
Clarkson's song is inspiring to be sure, but see if you like these words from Mother Teresa better:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.