Yesterday was four years since the day we buried Dominic. I can barely comprehend it. It’s a terrible thing for a mama’s heart to watch the seasons change and think, “I need to change the flowers on Dominic’s grave.”
But I do it.
It’s one of the last things I can do for this child of my heart.
I didn’t even know this word when we buried Dominic.
But I wish I had.
Because “sterkte” expresses precisely the supernatural strength and courage that filled my heart, mind and body as I stood for the hours of visitation, sang the worship songs, listened to friends, family and our shepherd/pastor give a message and invitation to a packed sanctuary, then filed out ahead of my son’s casket.
Sterkte literally translates “strength” or “power” but culturally means much more.
It means bravery, strength, fortitude and endurance in the face of fear and insurmountable odds through the empowering strength of God in me.
The morning of Dominic’s funeral-nine long days after his accident-I posted this on Facebook:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
~Habakkuk 3: 17-18
Years before, in another dry but hardly tragic season, God had imprinted those verses on my heart. Even if-even if- there was no way through but through, I was determined to trust God and to lean in and hold onto hope.
I had no idea how that choice would be tested in the coming days, weeks, months.
I had no idea that even now, four years later, I would have to hold on just as hard, wake each morning and make that choice once again, refuse the whispers of the enemy of my soul that spread seeds of doubt and confusion.
But in my own strength, all the determination in the world would be for nothing.
I am not strong enough or brave enough to stand.
It’s sterkte that held me up that day four years ago when my son’s body was lowered into the ground and dirt shoveled on top. It’s sterkte that keeps me upright today when tsunami waves of grief still wash over me and sobs escape. It’s sterkte that gives me strength to hold onto hope and lean into truth and keep marching bravely into a future that may yet hold more heartache.
Habakkuk committed to praise God no matter what happened.
He understood sterkte. It was his lifeline.
After his declaration of purpose, he gives the reason why:
The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!
The Lord God is my Strength.
The Lord God is my personal bravery.
The Lord God is my invincible army.
He is the reason I’m still standing.
6 thoughts on “Sterkte: The Empowering Strength of God in Me”
How awesome that there is such a word!
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Just perfect, Melanie. And because God is your strength, your personal bravery, and your invincible army, so many others are leaning into God . . . following your footsteps as you follow where He leads you. So many hurting hearts fortified, so many turning to the true source of help and comfort. So many broken believers demonstrating sterkte one day at a time.
They may now know the word, they made not recognize its existence in their individual lives but it shines through the broken fragments of their hearts. Bravery, strength, fortitude and endurance in the face of overwhelming fear and insurmountable odds through the empowering strength of God in their lives.
I can’t begin to imagine how many people have read your blog posts and found sterkte and hope – because it’s caught more than taught. Iron sharpening iron. He is the reason we are still standing. Even if we walk with a limp from that devastating day forward – be it four days or four years and on and on. Thanks from me and so many others who are standing firm and holding fast! Sterkte!
Sent from my iPad
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I’ve been reading your blog this past year and have been blessed by your thoughts and wisdom. I lost my son in an accident about 8 months after you (Christmas Day, 2014). My step-Dad also died and my 82-year old mother was hospitalized for a month.
Habakkuk 3:19 has been my verse during those grief-filled years.
I knew I experienced God’s incredible strength and endurance during the weeks when we planned and carried 2 funerals, and cared for my Mother. Now I know what it’s called: Sterkte!
As you so aptly testify to, God’s power and strength are given to us at our point of greatest need. His grace sustains us throughout our grief and somehow, this loss we live with, manages to enlarge our heart to love others deeply.
Blessings to you, and thank you for your ministry.
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Judi, I am so thankful that the Lord gave you what you needed to stand and I pray He continues to give you strength for each new day. I love, love, love this word for so many reasons-not the least of which is it was “given” to me by another brave waiting mama, Margaret Franklin, who lost her Ryan in an accident. It’s a strong word with a beautiful meaning. Just saying it speaks courage to my heart. ❤
Janet, You are always speaking strength and hope to my heart. A true friend in every sense of the word. I cherish you and am overwhelmed by God’s grace and goodness in bringing us together. Thank you. ❤
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