BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#327 - "Strong Enough" by Matthew West
Matthew West's fans shaped the stories on his album The Story of Your Life, and this one dealt with God's strength in our lives
 


For his 2010 album, The Story Of Your Life, Matthew West did something unusual: He turned the microphone around. 
 
Rather than write about what he was experiencing in his life, he asked his fans to submit the stories of their lives. When he opened up this opportunity to his fans, the message spread quickly – and soon almost 10,000 stories were submitted. Radio stations, media outlets, and retailers caught the vision and helped spread the word of this unique album. The stories gave Matthew a window into what his fans had experienced in their lives. And they covered a wide range of human experiences and emotions.
 
A letter to Matthew West from Tonia in Camby, Ind. inspired him to write his hit song "Strong Enough." I had the great opportunity to interview Matthew about "Strong Enough" in person.
 
Please tell me about the background in writing the song "Strong Enough."
 
The song was written and based on the story of 19-year-old Haleigh, who had plans to head off to college in the fall. Those plans changed when she was in a near tragic car accident, that left her leg shattered and her future uncertain. Her mom wrote to me to tell me about the difficult journey her daughter has had--11 surgeries in three years, and she is still recovering. 
 
This poor girl had all these plans and dreams, and then something comes out of nowhere and everything comes to a screeching halt. Ever been there? Maybe you can relate with how Haleigh felt one night in the hospital when her mom was trying to comfort her. Her mom said, "Haleigh, God won't let you go through anything you're not strong enough to handle." 
 
Haleigh responded with all the helplessness of a frustrated teenager, "Well, He must think I'm pretty freaking strong!" Instead of going to college, she's shaking her fist at God. The language is rather strong, but it is coming from an honest perspective, from a teenager. When you're in the middle of that kind of situation, the political correctness and smiley church face goes away. 
 
There was something about this letter of a situation that wasn't resolved. I felt like if I could capture that sentiment in a song, it would resonate in the hearts of many people. Although the song is based on her story, I think there could have been many stories I read that this song applied to. To be honest, the bulk of the stories were written from people who were in the middle of an ordeal or trial.
 
Do you have any Bible verses you used in writing the song?
 
Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
 
What's the take-away message for listeners regarding the song?
 
I've wondered the same thing. I've faced a seemingly impossible situation or two in my life, and found myself having candid conversations with God. God, are you sure you got the right guy here? God, I can't do this on my own. And therein lies the point of it all. We can't do it on our own. Nothing is possible without God. But we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Philippians 4:13 has been a significant piece of Scripture in my life, and one that I have to be reminded of time and time again. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength," and I don't have to be strong enough. 
 
In my life, I've been amazed to see the lengths that God will go to draw us closer to Him. It sounds gentle, to draw near to God. Some of the ways that God has drawn me closer is to allow things to happen in my life. Everything that happens in our lives--good and bad--goes through God first. Not that He makes them happen to us, but allows them to happen. If He's going to allow something to happen, we need to draw closer to Him. 
 
I put into lyrics something I've learned daily which is why does it take life throwing me a curve ball, brought to my knees and helpless? Sometimes for stubborn people like me it takes those extreme circumstances to remind me that I wasn't created to live this life in my own strength. There's power in our stories, we aren't the source of that power. There's a greater power source that brings the true power. In our weakness, God's strength is perfect!
 
Lyrics:
You must, You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't You cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us

Well maybe, maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
‘Cause when I'm finally, finally at rock bottom
That's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't You cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough

‘Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
And You are strong when I am weak
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be strong enough
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough, strong enough
Oh yeah

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't You cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough, strong enough
 
IVP Bible commentary: "Thus Paul concludes: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. With that he transforms his very Stoic-sounding sentences into a sufficiency quite beyond himself, in Christ, the basis and source of everything for Paul. Thus "self-sufficiency" becomes contentment because of his "Christ-sufficiency." Here is a much-used sentence from Paul that is often taken out of context and thus abused. While everything seems to be all-embracing and is often applied to one's activities, especially those that are personally demanding—athletics, learning to drive and the like, in context it refers primarily to living in want or plenty. Paul finds Christ sufficient in times of bounty as well as in times of need! Thus, rather than being a Christianized version of the Stoic ideal, this passage points up the absolute Christ-centeredness of Paul's whole life. He is a man in Christ. As such he takes what Christ brings. If it means "plenty," he is a man in Christ, and that alone; if it means "want," he is still a man in Christ, and he accepts deprivation as part of his understanding of discipleship."
 
The stories on The Story Of Your Life gave Matthew a window into what his fans had experienced in their lives. And they covered a wide range of human experiences and emotions. "My Own Little World" perhaps serves as a capstone to the entire album, describing a person who lived in their own "little world" and then was awakened to the bigger picture of need and God's work in the world. 
 
Following the great trend already established by Matthew West of completely transparent and vulnerable lyrics, "My Own Little World" addresses the truth of personal selfishness that most believers are too proud to admit. 
 
I applaud Matthew for once again convicting me that my faith is not just for me and God, but needs to be expressed in outward appreciation for what God has done for me. "Strong Enough" is the most vertical worship song and my overall favorite song on the album. The song is based on Philippians 4:13 and is an uplifting, catchy and encouraging song. The bridge is the prayer of the song: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, And I don't have to be strong enough, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, And I don't have to be strong enough, strong enough, Oh yeah." Amen!
 
(You can watch the video of the song here.)
 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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