The World’s Strongest Man

By Fin Sheridan

Growing up, I didn’t watch much television. My parents were really committed to us reading books and playing outdoors (which I’m very grateful for) so television was something we spend much time watching. However, I do have very fond memories of one particular programme that was a firm favourite: The World’s Strongest Man.

The World’s Strongest Man was a strongman competition, often held in ridiculously hot countries which made it even more impressive when giant men pulled trucks on a rope, lifted huge stone balls and balanced cars on their shoulders.

I remember one name, even now – Magnus Samuelsson. Google informs me that he reached the finals ten times, with five of those being podium places. Towering at 6’4, the Swedish strongman captured my 8 year old imagination. In 1995, he even snapped someone’s arm whilst arm-wrestling them as part of the competition. He was the one I pictured when I read the stories of Samson in the Bible.

“Compared to the power of the Creator, strongmen and children share a podium place.”

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

When I read that, years later, Magnus Samuelsson is the first thing I think of. Because, even despite his height, vast shoulders and tree-trunk arms, he is just a man. He can lift a bus but he didn’t set the stars in place. There’s not many categories where he and I are on the same level but, compared to the power of the Creator, strongmen and children share a podium place.

The marvellous, ludicrous truth of Psalm 8 is that God decides to entrust the world, his glorious vast creations, to human beings. Not to the strong, powerful and impressive – because against the backdrop of heaven, those categories become silly. What is man that you are mindful of him? He chooses according to his thoughts and ways. He chooses infants to bring him victory (v3). He chooses the weak to lead the strong (1 Corinthians 1). He chooses you and he chooses me.

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