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Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength

Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength

4.5 4
by Jim Daly

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In Stronger, Jim weaves together compelling stories and life principles with his trademark warmth and familiarity. Devoid of formulas but filled with biblical insights, Jim treats us to a feast of self-effacing, yet uplifting stories both about himself and about many others he has worked with through Focus on the Family.

Jim writes about the most


In Stronger, Jim weaves together compelling stories and life principles with his trademark warmth and familiarity. Devoid of formulas but filled with biblical insights, Jim treats us to a feast of self-effacing, yet uplifting stories both about himself and about many others he has worked with through Focus on the Family.

Jim writes about the most formidable and powerful strength—the kind that endures and hopes even when all seems hopeless—the kind that is found in only one source: the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. His is an eternal strength, unchangeable and unbreakable.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The coauthors offer an encouraging message of hope on developing the capacity for resilience. Jim Daly, CEO of Focus on the Family, and James Lund combine personal examples with other real-life stories that listeners will quickly identify with. They explore common themes of persecution and pain, which Daly delivers with adept pacing and sensitivity. Their discussion takes a global turn as they point out that some members of the international community pray that the U.S. will suffer persecution. Matching voice to mood, Daly explains how weakness becomes strength in the fires of persecution. The three-part book offers comfort and hope while it teaches how to "let go and let God." Part 1 focuses on weakness, trouble, and choices, and Part 2 is about surrender. The final section provides encouragement for those who believe that God works all things for His good purpose." 
G.D.W. © AudioFile Portland, Maine

Product Details

Cook, David C
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength


David C. Cook

Copyright © 2010 Jim Daly
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0260-9


When I Am Weak

This isn't how it works in the movies.

On a chilly Sunday morning in December, David Works and his family—his wife, Marie, and daughters Stephanie, Laurie, Rachel, and Grace—finish worshipping at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. As usual, they stay after the service to enjoy conversation with friends. On their way to the exit, David announces that lunch will be at a nearby hamburger restaurant called Good Times. The members of the Works family pull their coats tighter and step into a brisk breeze, shuffling carefully across patches of snow in the parking lot.

As the family approaches its white Toyota Sienna van, Laurie heads for the left-side sliding door.

"No, no—you have to sit in the back on the other side," Rachel says.

It is a Works family tradition that everyone keeps the same seat for both parts of a trip. Laurie rode to church in the rear right seat of the van, and Rachel intends to continue the custom.

"Okay, okay," Laurie says.

She walks around the back of the van, enters through the right-side sliding door, and takes her place in the back seat. Rachel, behind Laurie, pauses in front of the open right-side door to look for something in her purse.

That is when it starts.

David, sitting in the front passenger seat and in the process of buckling his seat belt, hears a sharp metallic sound. What was that? He lets go of the seat belt and swivels his head to the right, surveying the parking lot. To his shock, a young man dressed in black stands just twenty yards away. He's pointing a large assault rifle at the Toyota.

What in the world?

Another shot rings out.

"Get down! Get down! There's a shooter out there! He's shooting at us!" David screams. He curls up in the van's footwell, trying to get as low as possible. He hears the sound of more gunshots mixed with his family's screams. The sound of the shots changes; David understands the shooter is on the move.

Wait a minute—where is Rachel?

She'd been just outside the van when the shooting started. David twists to look behind him. His sixteen-year-old daughter is still standing next to the Toyota, a dazed look on her face. Her burnt-orange T-shirt has a hole in it at the level of her lower-right rib cage.

"Rachel!" David cries.

"I think I've been shot," Rachel says. Suddenly, she collapses, falling backward onto the blacktop.

David jerks his door handle and jumps out. The instant his feet hit the ground, another volley of bullets whizz past his head. He turns; the gunman is no more than ten yards away, rifle pointed directly at him. Before he can move, David feels pain on his right side, just above his waist. He too falls to the pavement. The shots continue.

"Gracie, get down and play dead! He's still here!" David orders. His youngest daughter, eleven years old, had been moving from the backseat to help her sister.

The firing stops momentarily, then resumes, but the sound is more distant and muffled. David realizes the gunman has gone into the church.

David has been shot in the abdomen and groin. He stretches his arm in Rachel's direction, willing his body to move. His daughter needs her father—her protector—yet David can't even crawl. Through tears, he says, "I'm so sorry, honey. I can't reach you."

"That's okay, Daddy," Rachel whispers.

On this horrifying, heartwrenching day, David Works would give anything to turn into a Hollywood action hero. If this were a movie, he would be Superman, leaping in front of his daughter and watching bullets bounce harmlessly off his chest. With his super strength, he would pick up the van and fly his family to safety, then return to catch the bad guy before he could hurt anyone else.

But this isn't a movie.

David Works has no super strength. He is lying in a church parking lot, weak, helpless, and bleeding, and watching the life ebb from his beloved daughter.

Panic Attacks

Let's leave this traumatic scene for the moment and visit the mother of a different family. Lori Mangrum is a pastor's wife. She and her husband, John, have two children. But Lori isn't thinking about her family right now. She's slumped in a chair at home. The curtains are drawn. For months, she hasn't slept or eaten well.

Lori grew up in a Christian home and learned to smile and appear joyful no matter what was going on around her. Like any family, she and her parents and siblings had their share of troubles, but Lori didn't want to burden her parents with her own fears and worries. She became the "sunshine" for her family, always working to cheer up others but rarely addressing her own emotional needs.

Years later, after marrying John, having kids, and moving to a new home, Lori started experiencing panic attacks. Without warning, feelings of terror overwhelmed her. She felt a crushing weight in her chest and became nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented. She thought she would die. The attacks increased to the point that Lori couldn't drive a car or go into a grocery store.

One day, after a series of tests, a physician explained to Lori that she had a benign heart condition that could cause some of the symptoms of panic attacks. Finally! Lori thought. I knew they would find something!

But the doctor wasn't finished.

"You have another problem," he said gently. "I believe this problem manifested itself because of some psychological problems. I want you to see a psychiatrist."

Lori couldn't believe it. I don't have any stress, she told herself, and what stress I do have I handle better than many others!

Now, sitting in the dark at home for week upon week, Lori is depressed. Friends have told her, "Pray harder, get yourself together, and stop this!" Yet she doesn't even have the energy to talk, eat, or take a shower. Lori is disgusted with herself. She would give anything to change her circumstances, but emotionally, she feels weak and helpless.

Those Uncomfortable Feelings

You may never have faced a crazed gunman or dealt with debilitating depression, but I'm guessing that at some point in life—perhaps many times—you've experienced some of the same feelings that David Works and Lori Mangrum went through in the incidents described above.

Weak. Helpless. Useless. Vulnerable.

Some pretty uncomfortable feelings, right?

We all do our best to avoid situations that expose our failings and fragility. But whether it's a life-or-death crisis or the challenge of simply getting through another day, sooner or later we each confront the undesired sense of being powerless, worthless, feeble, disabled, and dependent on others.

And we don't like it.

Most of us, especially in America, grow up with the idea that we can shape our own destinies. This, after all, is the land of opportunity. This is a place where dreams come true. We see ourselves as rugged individualists, fully capable of taking control of our lives and rising to the top.

And the weak? "Those people" are not us. Most of us profess to have empathy for the struggling and more helpless members of our society. But many of us are also conditioned to feel, deep down, a certain amount of disdain for the unfortunate few. You're homeless? That's too bad—but maybe you need to work harder at finding a job. You're depressed? Yeah, I get discouraged sometimes too—but enough of feeling sorry for yourself; it's time to get yourself together.

Part of the problem is that the weak and helpless are all around us, and when we see others having problems, it reminds us that we're vulnerable too. Some of us cope by closing our eyes and shutting our ears to troubles. I will confess that this can be my attitude at times. But no matter how hard we try to ignore the trials of others, they rise to our attention like steam from a teapot. We think we've guarded our minds and hearts, and suddenly we're faced with:

• The distraught mother who watches her teenage son storm out of the house in anger, not knowing what to say or do and wondering when or if she'll see him again.

• The discouraged father of four who has lost his job, has been evicted from their home, and is so deeply in debt that he doesn't see a way out.

• The terrified little girl who is sexually molested by her "uncle" when Mom isn't home and is told to keep quiet about it "or else."

• The lonely wife who thought she was marrying a soul mate and is desperate because she can't get her husband to talk to her.

• The sullen fourth-grader who repeatedly gets teased and bullied by a sixth-grader on the way home from school.

• The worried single mom whose son is being recruited by a neighborhood gang.

• The shocked fifty-year-old who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

• The young woman who feels paralyzed by depression and guilt over an abortion.

• The husband who can't forgive himself for an affair.

• The despairing grandmother who is watching her children and grandchildren destroy their lives with alcohol and drugs, yet doesn't know what to do about it.

It's hard enough to put aside the struggles and weaknesses of family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. It's harder still when the hurting wife, husband, mother, father, little girl, young man, or grandmother is us.

Do you know what I'm talking about? Are there times when you feel utterly incapable of dealing with the skyscraper-sized obstacle in your path? When you wish you didn't feel more helpless than a bug on your back? When you wish you were Superman or Wonder Woman instead of plain old pint-sized "me"?

If so, I understand at least some of what you're experiencing. One of my earliest memories, from when I was four years old, is of a man suddenly bursting through our front door one night as my brothers and sisters and I were watching TV. The man looked like a monster. His eyes were puffy, red, and glassy. His face was unshaven. He carried an oak-handled, ball-peen hammer in one hand and a jug of Gallo burgundy wine in the other.

The half man, half monster was my father, and he was looking for my mother. When he realized she wasn't there, he roared, "This is what I'm going to do to your mother!" He swung the hammer and bashed a giant hole in the wall. I spent the rest of that night in my bedroom, cowering under a blanket, even after the police arrived and took my dad away.

Up to that point, I'd enjoyed a fairly typical childhood. I was more worried about missing favorite TV shows like Batman than whether I would make it to the age of five. But everything changed for me that night. Although I couldn't have put it into words at the time, I suddenly learned just how vulnerable and helpless I really was.

It was a pretty awful feeling.

The feeling grew worse when my parents got divorced, Mom remarried, and we moved to an apartment complex in Compton, California. One night soon after, someone was murdered ten feet away from my ground-floor bedroom window. The rumor was that the killer used a shotgun. Knowing that only four inches of stucco and drywall separated me from whatever was out there left me distinctly scared.

I felt exposed. Defenseless. Weak.

The final blow occurred the next year. I understood that my mom was sick. She seemed to get more and more tired and eventually stayed in bed all the time. My stepfather, Hank, was so overprotective that he wouldn't even let us kids talk to her. Weeks later, when my mom went to the hospital, I still just thought she was really sick. It never occurred to me that she might be dying. When my brother Mike told me that Mom was dead, I was shocked. I squeezed Mike's arm so hard that I left fingernail marks. In some strange way I felt that hanging onto Mike would keep me from losing my mother.

My dad was out of my life. My stepfather left the family the day of Mom's funeral and had no real interest in or relationship with my siblings and me. My mother was gone. I felt completely alone—and more helpless than ever.

How I wished it could be different. I wanted something then that I simply did not possess. I wanted strength.

A Different Kind of Strength

Most of us admire strength in its many forms. We all want to be strong. But the word strong conjures up a variety of meanings and images in our minds. For some, it means sheer physical power. We might think of bulging muscles and the ability to handle the next bad guy who crosses our path. For others, strength is about having the persistence to do what we set out to do—such as taking the lead on a difficult project at work or potty training our children. Some may think of strength of intellect—an ability to outsmart any person or problem. For still others, being strong means appearing immune to any irritations or challenges that threaten to disrupt daily life. Some like the idea of being emotionally detached, to embody a "James Bond" approach to life. Whatever comes up, we'll take care of it, and we'll do it with style.

Think of the figures portrayed so prominently in the media today: politicians such as our current president; technology gurus such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs; athletes such as Peyton Manning or LeBron James; actors and actresses such as George Clooney or Nicole Kidman; media moguls such as Oprah Winfrey.

Each of these people possesses strengths that the public appreciates. It might be physical strength, emotional strength, talent, intellectual capacity, or influence, but the world admires these folks for what they have that the rest of us don't. They seem to have it together. They appear strong.

But I want to talk with you about an entirely different kind of strength. It's a quality of strength that David Works and Lori Mangrum discovered. It is so powerful that it overshadows every other kind of strength, like a Himalayan mountain towering over a molehill. It wasn't the strength that David and Lori were looking for in their moment of crisis, darkness, and greatest weakness. In some ways, it was the furthest thing from their minds. But it was exactly the strength they needed most.

I think it's just what the rest of us need too.

We're Going Through

In the instant after David Works was shot that December day in 2007, he realized he was in a situation that was beyond him. He didn't have the power or strength to control the events around him. He was helpless to protect himself or his family. So he turned to the only one left who did have the power and strength to change matters.

God, what's going on here? he thought. This is crazy. We're supposed to be a missionary family getting ready to go around the world for You. What's this all about? It doesn't make any sense.

David sensed an immediate answer. It wasn't audible, but it left a deep impression on him nevertheless: We're going THROUGH. We're not going OVER or going AROUND this. We're going THROUGH.

Most of us would be thrilled to receive a message from the Lord. Under the circumstances, however, that message wasn't what David wanted to hear.

David survived the attack on his life that morning. His daughter Rachel and his oldest daughter, eighteen-year-old Stephanie, did not. Stephanie was struck by a bullet while sitting in one of the van's middle seats. She died at the scene. Rachel died a few hours later at the same Colorado Springs hospital where David was treated. The gunman was a twenty-four-year-old who had also killed two people earlier that day at another ministry facility. Inside New Life Church, he'd been shot dead by a security guard before he could claim any more victims.

As the father of two boys, I can only imagine the physical and emotional anguish that David and his family endured in the hours, days, and weeks that followed the shooting and loss of two precious daughters and sisters. I can also imagine that they would have been tempted to curse God for what occurred that day, even to turn away from Him for apparently not intervening when they needed Him most. But that's not what happened.

That first night, lying alone in a hospital bed, overwhelmed by shock and grief, David tried to make sense of the tragedy. He took it straight to God.

Lord, I don't understand You at all right now. I don't get it. How could we lose two kids in one day? You're not making any sense.

But somehow, I trust You in this situation. Obviously I don't have any better ideas. I'm not going anywhere. I will stick with You, Lord, because You have the words of eternal life. I need You tonight more than ever.


Excerpted from STRONGER by JIM DALY, JAMES LUND. Copyright © 2010 Jim Daly. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Jim Daly assumed the presidency of Focus on the Family in 2005 after sixteen years with the ministry. In 2007, he wrote his autobiography, Finding Home, a deeply personal look at his journey from orphan to head of an international Christian organization. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Jean, and their two young sons.

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Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JTiszai More than 1 year ago
I've been a Focus on the Family listener since I was a little girl. Jim Daly has done a terrific job taking over the reins from Dr. Dobson, a role that had to have been intimidating to fill. Daly has revealed a bit of his life and the difficulties he had growing up through the broadcasts which made me want to read this book because I knew he could speak to the subject with authenticity. I've had my share of difficult times recently. Because of that, I found this book to be particularly good at walking that narrow line between hard reality and encouragement. Through sharing stories and drawing on his own wisdom, Daly expanded my view on why God allows challenges in our lives for our own good. This is not a book you can skim through lightly. It's not a book full of fluff and feel good, cotton candy sayings. This is a book that looks at faith colliding with real life, about how you pick up the pieces and go on after that collision. And how you are made stronger if you so choose. It's a characteristic of the human condition that we need challenges to grow stronger. Much as we need to lift ever-increasing weight to build our muscles, we need challenges to our character to grow it. Yet growth isn't a given just because there is a challenge. We have to choose it. Daly says we can choose to respond by becoming bitter, beaten, or broken. It's when we choose broken that we allow God to take those broken pieces to create something stronger. Pick up the book. You'll be glad you did.
onedesertrose More than 1 year ago
In Jim Daly's book, Stronger, he starts out in China, with a Chinese missionary couple telling him they will pray for us as he is leaving them. Jim felt compelled to asked them how they pray for us. With smiles and apprehension, the man replies, ".for the church in America to get more persecutions, as we see you as rather weak." I don't necessarily think we should pray for persecution, as Jesus already promised we'd have trials and temptations, but we are to take courage, as He has overcome the world. (See John 16:33) I would like to think they meant 'whatever it takes' to have us trust more deeply in the Lord. That original prayer, however, evolved into this book, Stronger, by Jim Daly. And what a book! His book is written in three parts. The first is about being weak, troubles, and our choices in the circumstances. Part two covers surrender, God's invitation, acceptance and trust, and authentic joy. Part three involves perseverance, character, hope, and a vision of strength. ",..for when I am week, them am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 Jim doesn't go into whether we should pray that original prayer or not. What he does do, is give us real-life stories of people we can relate to, who suffer tragedy, death, sickness, and loss, and how God uses our problems to draw us closer to the Him. God then provides the strength we need to go through life's sorrows and woes. Jim states very clearly that we have a choice in how we want to respond to life's curve balls, while emphasizing that the Lord wants nothing but the best for us. His answers to your prayers may not necessarily come in the form you pray for, but it is always the best for us in the long-term. This book brings comfort, hope and encouragement in that Jim tells it like it is, yet shows us how God is always there to comfort and intervene. A doubly good book for anyone in this walk of life, but especially those who are currently in the throes of difficulties. He uses the Word of God to show you what God has to say and His promises to you. A blessedly good book! Definitely a great book for a Bible study group or self-study! I give it a 5 out of 5. It's a book I will be keeping for my own shelves for reference and reminders of how to respond to life's circumstances and to Whom I should look for help. ".From whence comes my help, it comes from the LORD." Psalms 121:1-2 This book was provided by Karen of The B & B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago