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What Does it Mean ‘Let the Weak Say I am Strong’?

God requires us to set aside our view of ourselves, perhaps even the view other people have of us, and take up His definition of us and His calling on our lives because as our Maker, He is the only one with a right to define us.


Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man” (Joel 3:9-10, NASB).

When we think of strength in weakness from a biblical point of view, our minds probably harken to Paul words in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (NASB).

This passage from Joel, while it shares a strength and weakness theme, has a very different context for us to consider.

The passage from Joel is a more corporate call than Paul’s scenario. Joel’s proclamation has to do with the End Times and is about God’s kingdom work. Paul’s words are more personal and have an individual, everyday application sitting in plain sight.

While the passage from Joel deals with eschatological mysteries yet to be fully understood, there are some things that have very personal and present applications for each of us to take to heart from the passage.

1. God Calls Everyone to His Work

It’s sort of amazing to me that God calls all His children to be part of His kingdom plans.

When I was very little, I can remember coming home from Sunday school and asking my mom how someone got to be in the Bible and if I could be in the Bible.

She was surprised at this seemingly heretical request from her preschooler and explained that no one can add any more to the Bible.

But what my little heart didn’t have the words for was the deep call of my soul to be part of His story. How good and gracious of our Father to have a place for each of us in His story, even if His book is finished being written.

This passage from Joel calls on everyone from the weak to the strong, from the soldiers to the farmers to fulfill God’s commission and take their place in His story.

So this passage challenges us to look at our lives and ask ourselves if we are hearing and heeding God’s call on our lives. Or have we been missing out?

2. God Calls Us to Be Wholehearted in Our Spiritual Battles

At this moment, most of us are not called upon to fight a physical battle, but we are all called to “fight the good fight” each and every day.

This good fight entails fighting for faith and things of God and against our own personal struggles with sin. Paul refers multiple times to a fight for/of faith (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7).

On the topic of fighting against sin, Jesus said that if our eye caused us to sin, we would be better off plucking it out (Mark 9:47).

Even taken spiritually or metaphorically, there’s no misunderstanding here. Jesus expects us to remove sin and the stuff that tempts us to sin (the stuff that isn’t even quite sin yet but could blossom into it) with a passionate severity.

When the world meets in the Valley of Decision (from Joel 3) the fight is for God’s-kingdom purposes. When that battle ensues, every tool will be put to God’s service. Nothing will be left unused. No person and no tool will be without a task in the battle.

There’s a similar quality to both of these passages. From them, we ought to have our passions stirred afresh to bring our whole selves to battle against sin.

We ought to ask ourselves, “Are we that diligent in our daily lives to use every tool possible to fight the battles against sin and for faith in front of us?”

Or are we maybe a little half-hearted or lukewarm about fighting against sin and for faith?

Another end of days passage on this matter is from Revelation 3:15-16:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

While End Times debates abound and there will always be a certain amount of mystery to prophesy, one thing that is an absolutely clear theme in most End Times passages is a call to be focused, passionate, and strong in our pursuit of the Lord and His ways as the days draw near.

Peter puts it this way:

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:11-13, NASB).

We can’t read these passages and not feel the Spirit’s breath on the pages, hovering over us in the words, just as He did over the waters at Creation. These passages stir us and energize our hearts to be spiritual soldiers.

3. God’s Call When We Feel Weak

The word in this passage from Joel about the weak saying they are “mighty” is the same Hebrew word when the Angel called Gideon,

The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man” (Judges 6:14-16).

The Lord instructed Gideon, who felt like he was the least of the least, to be the people’s valiant hero. Not only would Gideon fight to free his people, but he would also tear down idols to false gods that had ensnared his own family.

As we fight to find our places and callings in God’s story, it is easy to end up hiding like Gideon was when the Angel called him. It is easy to feel bound by circumstantial limitations, just as the Midianites had oppressed the Israelites. And to feel our weakness larger than God’s strength.

Yet, just like Gideon and just like Paul, we all are called to live in the truth that when God calls us to a task, He strengthens us for it.

In the passage from Joel, farmers will be called on to battle. In ancient days soldiers and farmers were two opposite ends of the workforce and socioeconomic world. Soldiers were like football jocks and farmers were the chess club kids.

What that speaks to us is that God requires us to set aside our view of ourselves, perhaps even the view other people have of us, and take up His definition of us and His calling on our lives because as our Lord and Maker, He is the only one with a right to define us.

The battle in our minds for truthful perspectives is perhaps the most common, heated, and important battleground we will fight for.

Until the Lord sits on His throne in our hearts by us surrendering the lies of our incomplete and broken perspectives, we are unable to realize our place in the larger battles.

May God reveal your battlegrounds and give you the strength for each of them!

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