Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. -1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NLT
I did some exercise with a friend at the gym today. We mostly chatted while we worked out, but we also stood by while the other strained and struggled to get a work out. Were we mean to each other? Was it cruel of my friend to not insist I get off the treadmill so I could rest? No, of course not. We were there to sweat and strain. We were there to encourage each other to sweat and strain so we could strengthen our bodies and hearts.
I also did some exercise with another Friend in the car on the way to drop off my kids at their dad’s house. I chatted with Him, actually I mostly poured out all my complaints and fears on Him while I drove. He kindly listened. Then I used all the strength I had to push my fears and doubts aside and say, “You are my Provider Lord. Thank you in advance for supplying my needs.” I heard in reply, “You just strengthened your faith Sheila.” My Friend didn’t lift the weight on me while I was driving. And He wasn’t cruel in not taking away my struggle. Rather He was helping me get a little Christ-like muscle and some everlasting endurance.
I need to remember that in the days ahead. Physically, I need resistance and strain to gain strength and endurance. And spiritually I need struggles and hardship to grow strong and finish this race!
So many times I look at the Lord, who is my Friend, Coach and Personal Trainer, and accuse Him of cruelty for not getting rid of the resistance in my life. But now that I think about it, that’s about as ridiculous as me looking at my friend at the gym today and saying, “You’re so mean! How dare you let me sweat and strain like this! Don’t you even care that I’m struggling here?”
It’s easy to forget. At least for me, that my Lord is good. There is no evil in Him at all. When hardship and struggle, pain and sorrow come into my life He is there with me. He knows how far to let these things resist me so that I might grow strong. He knows when to say, “That’s enough. This test has served its purpose. Your workout is done.”
Oh, how I need to remember this!