Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 The Message
It didn’t take me long to figure out how my personal trainer, Anthony, works. He gives me some exercise to do, such as sitting down and standing up, and then has me do it repeatedly until I am quite sure I can’t do it any longer. The sweat on my brow, the grimace on my face, the painful moans, the obvious strain of the movement and the slowness in which I do it should all be clues to Anthony that I have reached my limit. And if he doesn’t pick up on those clues, my blunt complaints should get the point across. However, when we get to that point, Anthony says, “Ok, counting down, here we go: 10, 9, 8…” UGH! Guess what, though. I do it. Turns out I can handle more than I thought.
Once I master that level, Anthony increases the resistance. For instance, in the sit down-stand up exercise mentioned above, he lowers the bench from which I am to sit and rise. I look at him like he’s crazy and utter some complaint. He says, “You can do it, let’s go.” And we repeat the previous pattern. At first, I can’t do as many. But after a few sessions, I’m cranking them out. I’ve built muscle. All it took was some R & R, not “rest and relaxation,” but “Resistance and Repitition.”
It’s fun to recognize the progress made and strength gained from such a simple (but not easy) process. I’m glad now Anthony didn’t listen to my whiny complaints but kept pushing me. My favorite cardio machine is the Elliptical. My “cool-down” speed and level on that machine is now faster and higher than my max was three months ago. By increasing the resistance and repeating the exercise, I have gotten stronger and faster, building muscle and getting healthier.
You know, our faith muscles are like that, too. Oftentimes we complain in hard times, wondering why God is picking on us. “Why me, Lord?” we query. But what if God is using those hard times to build our spiritual strength? Is it easier to trust an earthly trainer than it is to trust our heavenly Creator? Sometimes the pain feels too great. In those times we cling to God like never before. We find Him to be strong enough to carry us through. Eventually, if we trust Him, we can find how He works it for our good.
How about you? What spiritual muscle is God building in you?