This proverb is so well known, that even my kids know it. I'll admit I have sang Kelly Clarkson's song "Stronger" at the top of my lungs multiple times in my car. Even so, there is something that sometimes feel a little false about this saying.
I recently read a twist on the well-known saying that struck a nerve; "What doesn't kill you gives you unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humor." I laughed out loud because it was true of me for so long. I still have a dark sense of humor, because humor is a way to survive pain. In high school, when I was living with an emotionally abusive and mentally ill mother, I said my life could have been a great sitcom, albeit a somewhat dark comedy that probably would now be on HBO. :)
Personally, I am learning that those things that almost killed me (emotionally, spiritually, & physically) eventually make me stronger, but first made me less willing to admit my weakness, and try live in my own existing strength.
Maybe as Christians we should rethink this phrase.
Here is my suggestion:
"What doesn't kill you, makes you deeply grateful there is someone much stronger."
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me"
1 Cor 12:9