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Is 'God Gives His Toughest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers' in Scripture?

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During any crisis, you may hear the phrase, “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.”

Perhaps this quote, placed on a solid-color or aesthetically pleasing social media backdrop, sought to encourage you to press on amidst the difficulties of this tumultuous season. But, similar to phrases like, “God helps those who help themselves,” this mantra does not appear anywhere in Scripture.

In fact, we could do ourselves harm by believing in the quote, “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.” Although the phrase may appear to be encouraging—even harmless—the ideas held within are anything but biblical.

Let’s dive into what Scripture actually says, what the Bible tells us about strength in the midst of adversity, and how we need to rely on God’s strength and not our own.

3 Reasons Why This Saying Isn't in the Bible

Let’s break down the phrase to understand why this does not align with Scripture.

1. It's dangerous to compare our battles.
First, let’s analyze the word “toughest.” Toughest seems to put the struggles of a Christian on a pedestal. That somehow encountering a trial (that we may deem more difficult by human standards) elevates us to a higher rank than other Christians. For instance, my Grandma passed away recently. But my friend has lost her Mom recently. My friend may say, “Well, my trial is more difficult than yours, so I’m a tougher soldier than you.”

Scripture warns us against playing the comparison game (Galatians 6:4-6). Comparison is a cancer, and it eats away at our joy.

And we can’t objectively measure toughness. My struggle with singleness as a hopeless romantic is going to be far different than someone who is single and feels lukewarm about a relationship. Because I struggle and they don’t does not make me any less tough of a soldier. And the fact that they may struggle with a sin such as pornography and I do not, does not weaken them as a soldier.

2. Where does our strength come from?
Second, let’s talk about the word, strongest. We’ll dive more into this below, but the depiction of humanity in Scripture is a far cry from strength. Our ideas of self-reliance and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps aren’t biblical at all.

Paul, one of the “strongest soldiers” in the Christian hall of fame, frequently talks about his weakness (2 Corinthians 12). Jesus calls our flesh weak (Matthew 26:41), in other words, we can’t be self-reliant.

Not only do we risk peril when we say we can rely on ourselves, but we go against the ideas of our flesh in the Bible. We need to rely on the Lord.

3. God never leaves us in our trials.
Third, the quote removes God from the equation. It implies that he simply plops us into a battle and sits back and watches us fight.

Let me use this example: My friend, an honors student at a college, has enrolled into honors classes. The teachers have far greater expectations for those students. They receive harder tests and far more stringent guidelines on their homework—all for the sake of honors being listed next to their name on the graduation program. My friend hates this.

He has come to the realization that few people at graduation, or future employers, will care a great deal if he has “honors” by his name. He says, “Part of me wishes I wasn’t honors so my GPA wouldn’t suffer.” He doesn’t take encouragement that he’s the “strongest” student academically when he receives a test that is far harder than another student who doesn’t have the honors label.

In the same way, the verisimilitude of the warm and fuzzies we feel after reading the quote rubs off in about two seconds. If God gives us tough battles, why isn’t he fighting alongside us? Why does he leave us alone to these trials? And why can’t we just remove the “honors” badge from our label and get an easier battle?

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The Problem with Thinking We're the Strongest

Good news: God does fight for us (Exodus 14:14) and with us (Ephesians 6). And when we cannot fight, he continues to do so.

Why? Because we rely on him. We know that he gives us far more than we can handle, but when yoked with him, he can handle the burden (Matthew 11:28-30).

When we believe we can fight the battle on our own strength, we forgo our spiritual armor. We forget the reason we can even participate in any fight in the first place, because the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us.

Thinking we’re strong enough to fight leaves out our need for God. It defeats the purpose of Christianity: that we need to rely on God to transform us, comfort us, shape us, and grow us closer to him.

What Does the Bible Say about Who is Strongest?

The Bible has a funny way of turning our cultural ideas on its head. The “strongest” soldiers are the “weakest” by human standards.

The meek inherit the earth, the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven, and those who mourn receive comfort.

Scripture flips the idea of “the strongest.” The weakest have the most “strength” because they rely on Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Samson doesn’t regain his strength, after relying on it for so long, until he turns to God (Judges 16:29).

Scriptures about Being Strong in Hard Times

So what does Scripture say about strength in the midst of a difficult time, such as a global pandemic? The Bible does have a great deal to talk about when it comes to faith in hard times.

1 John 5:4 says that anyone “born of God” overcomes the world. 2 Timothy 4:7 declares that Christians who live faithfully will have fought the good fight, and won the race of life.

In other words, in the midst of the pain and suffering, we find strength in the future God has for us. We place our faith in him and rely on his promises, knowing that we have not yet reached the end.

We also find strength in knowing that God sits with us in the midst of the hurt, the pain, and the uncertainty. Not only did he live on earth and understand (He wept, after all, John 11:35), but the Holy Spirit who indwells us does not leave us alone in our darkest moments.

Does God Really Give Us Our Toughest Battles?

Once again, we have to understand the word “toughest” can apply to all the soldiers. We all experience battles that test the deepest desires of our hearts. Like Abraham, God recognizes when we’ve placed idols in front of him and our battles shake us to our core (Genesis 22).

In short, yes, we all receive our “toughest” battles in the sense that life is tough. No one comes out of it without a great deal of bruises and collateral damage from the war. Because the nature of sin and its effects on the world, to suffer is human, and we all experience hardship and uncertainty.

But praise God, he fights for us. God is the strongest warrior, and praise the Lord, when we rely on him—he can help us get through the toughest battles.

A Prayer to Rely on God's Strength

Dear Heavenly Father, I often find myself attempting to lean onto my own strength. Help me to recognize that even my so-called strength comes from you. Remind me that I need to rely on you. This life presents so many hardships and difficult battles, and Lord, I cannot fight a single day without you.

Remind me of your goodness, your promises, and your life, and that you will never forsake me. Amen. 

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headshot of author Hope BolingerHope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.




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