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Lesson Four • Strength
Pastor Ryan Story

I hate the letter V. It may be an odd thing to say that you do not like a V. The reason I do not like the letter V is two-fold. First, the letter V is only worth four points in Scrabble and it is the hardest letter to play. Second, I flinch anytime I hear the word “vulnerable.” I hate being vulnerable. I have struggled with major trust issues, I hate it when I cry, I hate it when I am being insecure, and I hate it when I realize I have to let someone in because the hurt inside my heart is too much for me to bear alone (Man, did this lesson jump in seriousness.) Now, I have a list a mile long on reasons why I struggle with these things, but the one thing I realized early in my marriage is that there is power in vulnerability.

1. How are you when it comes to being vulnerable within your family?

2. How are you with being open and honest with a small group of trusted people within your church?

Let me help you with something, I know you have struggles in life. I know you struggle with sin. I know you have past failures that haunt you. I know that there are some married couples reading this that are fighting to keep their marriage intact. There are parents reading this lesson who are struggling with the reality that their child is straying from the path where God wants them. There are no perfect fathers (other than our Heavenly One), there are no perfect mothers, and there are no perfect children. The greatest con job Satan does to humanity is the way he makes us feel inadequate and unfit. Those emotions drive us to believe that we are the only ones who fail and the only ones to have struggles in our families. Those toxic thoughts drive us to isolate ourselves.

We see this pattern in Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

3. Why would Satan want to isolate Eve?

4. Why does the devil only speak in lies?

5. Why is isolation so dangerous?


I feel working for The River Church has also helped my Trivial Pursuit skills. To frame this idea within the idea of a broken bone, I had to brush up on my anatomy and physiology. After something is broken the healing process is broken up into three phases.


1) The Reactive Phase

During the reactive phase, the area around the break begins to inflame and swell. In this case, the swelling and inflammation are meant as good things. The damaged area inflames to push away and infection and allows the body to start the beginning stages of healing. Sadly, in our lives when we first are hurt, our natural instincts when we begin to swell is to push others away. In pain, we push away the good and the bad.

In Psalm 34:18, we read, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

6. How can you apply this verse to your family’s life during a painful moment?

Romans 12:15 adds, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

7. How can you apply this verse to your family’s life during a painful moment?

8. How do these two verses contrast the natural notion to push people away during pain?


2) The Reparative Phase

During this phase, the membrane that surrounds your bone converts itself into bone and cartilage that bridges the two broken parts of the bone. The body ends up taking care of itself by helping fill in the break.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The way God designed our bodies is fascinating. Our bodies were created to purposely have a mechanism that helps with the healing of bones. Now, this is not a stance to throw away modern medicine, but it is amazing that a cast, a doctor’s solution to a broken bone, is modeled after God’s design. A cast just helps the process out.

If you missed the symbolism of the Reparative Process, allow me to elaborate. The body surrounds the broken part of the body to strengthen it in the same way that the Body of Christ should surround those who are hurting. To begin the healing process, the body surrounds the broken part and becomes the broken parts strength.

9. How would it look if the Body of Christ acted like our bodies to help those who are hurting?

10. How would this same truth look inside a family?

One of the biggest lies the devil has been able to convince the church is that its members must always be strong, put together, and never struggle. The truth is we all struggle, we all have shortcomings, and all fall short.

11. Why is it so hard to be vulnerable inside the church and admit you need help?


3) The Remodeling Phase

During the last phase, the Remodeling Phase, the temporary bone placed there in the Reparative Phase begins to be replaced with compact permanent bone. While the body comes to aid in the healing process, the end result is that the body is able to heal and begin to operate as it did before the break.

The reality of life is we will all be a part of hurting, whether the one who is hurt, the one who is helping a person who is hurt, or (sadly) the ones who hurt others. However, our hurt is never meant to be something that we let define us. There has to be the end goal in healing that a person is capable of moving forward. This is not a call to be unsympathetic or even unempathetic toward those who have gone through incredibly difficult times within their families. The Remodeling Phase is the final stage that allows us to move forward healed.

At one point in Joshua’s life, he suffered a major blow as a leader. He leads his people into a battle where the nation of Israel had major losses. Because of the sin of one man, Achan, the nation of Israel had lost a seemingly winnable battle. In total 36 men where killed. I want to make sure that we do not breeze over that number because we do not have the faces or names of these men. Possibly 36 families were now grieving the loss of a loved one, as well as the grief that was created by the entire nation of Israel.

God tells Joshua what to do to ensure the Remodeling Phases are completed. Joshua 7:13 records, “Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, ‘There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.’’”

12. Why does God seem unsympathetic toward Joshua by telling him to “get up?”

13. What does it mean to consecrate yourself?

14. For a family to completely heal, why is it important that they get rid of things that are hurting them?


“My family is my first ministry.”
Dr. Josh McDowell

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