God does not want us to be strong. God wants to be our strength. Perhaps a better way to say it is this: God wants us to be really strong, which is different from the way we might typically desire to be strong. We often want to be strong in a way that reflects well on us. God wants us to be strong in a way that reflects well on him. In a fallen world, these two wants are often at odds.
Now, if we were sinless, our wants and God’s wants would be in perfect harmony. We would only want to be strong in the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11). But since we are not sinless, there is often dissonance between the strength we desire to have and the strength God desires to give us.
As a result, we can find ourselves deeply discouraged by the very limitations and adversity that God has actually designed to cultivate in us strong, courageous, and liberating faith.
Trapped in Weakness
In Exodus 12, the people of Israel had been miraculously released from slavery and led out of Egypt by Moses. And by Exodus 14, Israel was encamped by the Red Sea, in a vulnerable and probably puzzling position. God has purposefully instructed Moses to lead Israel there because he had determined to humiliate Pharaoh and the Egyptians one last dramatic time — one more dramatic exclamation point to place on the declaration to Egypt and the world that would reverberate for the remainder of human history: "I am the Lord" (Exodus 14:4).
But the Israelites didn't understand God's purposes. There was probably plenty of murmuring about what in the world they were doing camped at what looked like a dead end. This only grew to fever pitched panic when Pharaoh’s army showed up and pinned them all against the sea. It had all the look of a worst-case scenario: death by sword or death by drowning.