The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


October 9, 2019

I have a work out schedule I follow from week to week. It is Tuesday morning as I write this, and I will confess honestly that I dread going to the gym on Tuesday mornings. My Tuesday workout is very difficult. I have to push myself to finish it because it is so strenuous. My whole body is always sore by the middle of the day on Tuesdays. What makes matters worse is, this morning I added to the workout because I am trying to improve my fitness level, and I’m going to continue to make it a little harder every week in pursuit of that goal. It is painful, exhausting and it is also important. The reason for this is that the hardest work I do at the gym improves me the most. As I look back at my life, the hardest times I have gone through have often been the best in terms of making me better as a person. The hardest times in my marriage have made me a better husband. The biggest personal losses eventually made me a better pastor. The worst challenges at work have taught me to do my job better. The most humiliating screw ups and failures have taught me lessons I would have otherwise never learned. Difficulty is valuable because it has the potential to make us better and stronger. I’m not saying this is automatic or that it is fun. It takes work. There is a great line in the Bible where the apostle Paul writes: “For we know that God works through all things for the good of those who love Him.” This is one of the most misquoted lines in the Bible. People have turned it into: Everything works out for good. That’s really not what it says. The passage is saying that if we continue to trust God in difficulty, He will use things for our good. This good might be new spiritual depth or strength to face further adversity or a deeper sense of empathy or deeper faith. The condition attached to it is that we need to go through it with Him. We need to turn to Him for strength in hardship and patience to wait for deliverance. These are not automatic. Instead, they require us to learn and grow in the difficulties we face. The book of James puts a more positive spin on it: “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.” Essentially, we should rejoice in hard times because they make us better. We have to face them and lean on our faith as they happen. They are not easy, but like my Tuesday morning workout, the hard work makes us stronger. This will not happen when we retreat into bitterness, alcohol, resignation, silent inaction, or any other escape. The real challenge is to face it, act righteously, and let the hardship force us to develop muscles of character.


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