My body hurt with each step. I felt pain in muscles I didn’t remember having. The aftermath of my first workout in months was certainly memorable. It made me keenly aware that my muscles had not been exercised in a long, long time.
They say that once you’re in the groove, working out is really fun. Indeed, I faintly remember enjoying it until about eight years ago, when various health problems and major surgeries kept me from the gym for months at a time. But ever since then, exercising has become a necessity, not a pleasure. I know if I am to be strong, I must train these feeble muscles of mine.
“No pain, no gain”, says the famous maxim. As much as I hate it, I know it’s true.
Benjamin Franklyn’s old proverb can easily be applied to our faith walk as well. The strongest men and women of faith who have walked this earth and impacted their society for good have had to exercise their faith muscles though the hardest of circumstances. Great non-fiction books are usually written with the blood of those who teach the lessons within; and one cannot overlook the fact that the people we know who impacted our faith the most are usually those whom we witnessed walk through dark valleys and yet maintain unfazed faith.
When it comes to life’s struggles, what defeats us is not necessary the trials we face, but our attitude towards them. We often treat our life’s workouts with the same lack of resilience that we have when we hit the gym. Indeed, many of us turn our back on God when the going gets rough, blaming him for the pain we feel, not realizing that our trials are tools that He uses to shape us, strengthen us and refine our character. As we deny God the right to use whichever tools he chooses to make us stronger, we miss out on growing spiritually and emotionally. The result is the same to our faith as it is to our body muscle groups: Our testimony becomes progressively weaker. On the other hand, we see examples in history and in our midst of people who have allowed God to shape them as they went through difficult circumstances. The result is a list of world changers and history makers, who impacted the world because they allowed their trials to strengthen their character and purify their hearts. Their voices echo in history. Their strength inspires generations. Their names may be famous, such as Anne Frank, Hellen Keller, Winston Churchill, or Charles Spurgeon. But they’re also the unsung heroes of faith: Grandmas and grandpas, next door neighbors and school teachers, whom we have witnessed walk through the darkest valleys, coming out with a strong testimony of God’s faithfulness and goodness through it all.
I don’t feel like going back to the gym today. I’d certainly much rather get a bag of popcorn and rent a chick flick. But I know that, unless I press on, my muscles will never become strong again. Likewise, if I want to see God moving in a mighty way in my life, I must trust him to shape me, strengthen me, molding my character through the trials I face. It hurts and I don’t like it. But as I look back and see the awesome things that he’s already done, I choose to tell my heart to keep on trusting, for I know his plans for me are good. He’s never failed me yet.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her first book, “12 Inches – Bridging the Gap between How You Feel and What You Know About God” will be available in stores nationwide in the Summer of 2015. Visit her blog to read her devotionals at www.soaringwithhim.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org