It took years of prodding, but about a year ago my husband finally persuaded me to incorporate strength training into my workout routine.
Strength training involves subjecting muscles to resistance, such as laying down and pushing yourself off the floor with your arms (aka the dreaded push-up) or lifting your arms while holding heavy weights.
When our muscles are challenged with resistance (like weights or the force of gravity) they grow stronger. Other benefits of strength training include stronger bones, improved metabolism, and increased endurance in day to day tasks, all of which means I have more strength to do what matters most, like writing (even typing takes energy :)) and playing with my nephews.
Although these benefits convinced me that strength training is worth the effort, I would be lying if I said I like it. I pretty much detest it, to be honest. Especially push-ups.
Problems as Opportunities
But there’s another kind of resistance I loathe even more.
It’s the resistance that challenges my peace, my hope, my dreams, and my identity. The problems that interfere with my plans. The fear that says,You can’t do it. The anxiety that whispers, It won’t turn out. The worry that declares, There’s not enough.
But lately I’ve been learning to look at problems and their common companions, worry and fear, in a different light. Yes, they present resistance to what I’m striving for, but they also present an opportunity.
In Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) we find this challenging but ultimately encouraging passage:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment."
It’s quite a shocking statement: rejoice when you run into problems or trials.
That’s the opposite of what I’m naturally inclined to do.
When I face problems, trials, or disappointments, I'm often tempted to get discouraged, frustrated, or fearful. Like pushups, they’re not something I want to deal with.
But it turns out that resistance is not just good for growing our muscles. It’s good for growing spiritually too. Problems are basically strength training exercises. Whatever problem I face, Paul says to view it as a chance to develop and mature as a Christian.
So when a problem tempts me to fear or worry, instead of despairing, I’ve been trying to remember this: each time I correctly respond to a problem and any associated worry (by, instead of giving in to it, turning to God, offering it to Him, repenting if needed, and meditating on His truth) I am developing spiritual and emotional muscles.
No, it’s not fun. Sometimes it feels like I’m being stretched beyond my limits. But every time we persevere and choose faith over fear, we get a little stronger.
Interestingly, as I am changing my perspective, it makes facing problems not as bad. Still definitely not fun. But knowing that something positive will come from my persistence goes a long way in helping me keep on keeping on.
The author of Hebrews tells us, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." (Hebrews 12:11 NLT)
I do push ups and other exercises because I want the benefits that come with pushing through resistance: stronger muscles, stronger bones, improved metabolism, increased endurance, etc.
But I’m pushing through my problems, fears, and worries because I want to grow strong in Lord, and I yearn to reap a harvest of peace! Though it takes time, if we persist, we will grow from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7)!
"All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize." 1 Corinthians 9:25 NLT
I want to hear from you!
What motivates you to push through problems or worries? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
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