Rich in metaphor, dizzying in apparent contradiction, Scripture describes the Kingdom of God with upside-down truth: life out of death, power in humility, healing from brokenness, suffering as the path to glory. In Stronger, his gripping memoir, Clayton King captures the underlying, big-picture paradox, and while he’s at it, he seizes the opportunity to relieve us of some pervasive wrong thinking about strength. He also had believed the lie:
“To me, strength and success were proof that God was using me and that He loved me.”
Active in ministry since the age of fourteen, Clayton now travels internationally to speak in prisons, churches, and schools. Founder and president of a humanitarian non-profit and a teaching pastor, he found that his ministry and his family life began spinning out of control when, in his thirties, he experienced the deaths of nine close family members. Walking with him through the dark days of loss and his intense grief over the illnesses and deaths of both parents, the reader is invited to enter into the truth of God’s words in Psalm 91:
“I will be with him in trouble.”
Clayton helps his readers to see that God’s presence is “part of the greater purpose in our trials,” because the truth is that our strength comes from God.
There is no index in Stronger (It’s not that kind of book.), but if there were, the word leverage would have — by my extremely unscientific tally — at least eight entries. The concept figures prominently in Clayton’s thinking, and here’s why: Life on a fallen planet guarantees dark days and long nights; weakness; hard times; hopeless seasons; suffering; loss; regret; abuse and fear. Stronger shares how God’s great power will leverage all of these for His own purpose; for our good and for His glory; for our ultimate transformation into disciples; for the sake of our humility, development, and growth; for the sake of helping others.
In this paradox, and in one sentence, Clayton King summarizes the problem of pain:
“We live in a world where the kingdom of God has not yet been fully realized on the earth, and in the meantime there are many things we can and must experience that we cannot make sense of with our intellect.”
Instead of intellectual mastery, God offers understanding, and “weakness is the doorway to understanding. Understanding is the doorway to compassion and ministry.”
Clayton King’s journey and the telling of it — “How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” — offers truth like a crowbar to pry our hearts away from the notion that weakness is a destination, when the truth is this:
“The goal is to be stronger. Weakness is God’s way of getting you there.”
This book was provided by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.
I link up with these communities on a regular basis: Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect