|Sometimes we learn more from life's gutter balls than from its strikes.|
I hate to exercise. But I love to have exercised (past tense.) Even though I’ve maintained a steady exercise routine for a couple of decades, more often than not, I conduct a brief debate with myself over whether to work out that day. Why exert today when you can put it off until tomorrow?
Yet, most times I relent and go anyway. The first few minutes are like trying to push a wet noodle up hill, but after I’ve warmed up it becomes a bit easier. Before I know it, the 45 minutes or hour I’ve designated for working out have passed. Then I’m very pleased I went to exercise – because it’s over.
I know a consistent workout is good for me, and even with the passing of years, I’m much healthier today than I would have been if I’d chosen not to go through the pain and strain. So in retrospect, I guess I don’t really “hate” exercising as much as I claim.
This principle applies to everyday life as well. Who among us would eagerly line up for financial struggles, family discord, work challenges, or health issues? We want our lives to be a smooth ride, kind of like sliding rapidly down a bobsled run – except without the precarious twists and turns. But in reality, it’s the difficulties that shape us, building character, perseverance, confidence and faith.
I don’t know who originated these thoughts, but they ring true: Pain leads to patience; hurt leads to humility; and suffering leads to strength.
We find this affirmed in the Scriptures. Romans 5:3-6 tells us, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
To assure us that’s not a misprint or mistranslation, James 1:2-4 declares, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Walking or running on a treadmill, riding an exercise bike and lifting weights produce a good physical workout that tones and strengthens muscles, builds stamina and enhances our overall physical well-being. Circumstances in life can do much the same, challenging our resolve, helping us to build determination and, if we’re willing, strengthening our trust and faith in the Lord. For whatever reason, success and good times – those moments when we can revel in carefree living – can’t do that for us.
So, like exercising, I have hated going through money struggles, career uncertainties, family conflicts, some serious health challenges, even times when I’ve questioned my faith. But I’m thankful to have gone through each of them. They taught me a lot about myself – and even more about the Lord and the absolute confidence I can have in Him.