Harden

I love to work out.  In fact, in the course of twelve hours over the weekend I did a heavy near-maximum effort chest and back workout and chased it with a heavy near-maximum effort leg and abdominal workout.  There isn’t a single muscle group that felt good after I finished the last set of that second workout.

There is something stress-relieving and purifying about the burn and exhaustion of a great workout.  It is all at once gratifying, satisfying, agonizing, and tiring.  The next day, I ache in all the right places and have stiffness and soreness where I worked the hardest.  My wife would even say that sometimes I downright complain about the pain – yet, there is something about it that keeps bringing me back to push myself harder, to add just a few more plates to the bar, or run that mile just a few seconds faster.

Why in the world do I torture myself?

Improvement.

Strength.

Stamina.

Fortitude.

Confidence.

To harden my body and mind.

That last part is what is so interesting about exercise.  It really isn’t all that different than the trials of life.  The little things in life that test your patience or push you beyond your comfort zone are there to harden your spirit.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

Hebrews 12:11-12

There is an oft-quoted phrase that the reason you sweat in peacetime is so that you bleed less in war.  There is some serious truth to this statement. God pushes you to improve yourself.  He allows roadblocks to be put in your path, obstacles which you have to fight through, around, or over, not because he enjoys watching you suffer, but because perseverance and faithfulness in light of those smaller problems in life will build strength and character in order that you are more ready to take on the serious problems in life.  The writer of Hebrews addressed that latter point very effectively.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

Hebrews 12:7-10

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Hebrews 12:4

Do you look at the trials in your life as nuisances?  Or do you approach them like a workout laid out by your personal trainer to harden your spirit, mind, and body?

Enjoy the burn.  He’s building you up by tearing you down just a little…

 

 

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