Often, the very things we need to grow are the same things we work to avoid because we think we are fragile. Scripture uses the metaphor of running a race to describe the Christian life on more than one occasion. In running the race, there are weights we should cast off and weights we should pick up if we are going to compete to win the prize.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race set before us.” We are to cast off the sin that slows us down, but that is only half of the picture. 2 Cor. 9:24-26 reminds us that we are also to run in a way that we may obtain the prize. The way we do that is to discipline our bodies.
Here is the fantastic thing about the human body. It can handle much more than we think it can. In fact, the more adversity we throw at it, the more it rises to the occasion. There are limits, of course, but this is why athletes lift weights and train in difficult conditions to prepare for the competition. The stress they put on their bodies is the thing that makes their body stronger.
Our spiritual life is quite similar. We are much more resilient than we think we are, and our faith grows through training. However, if we want to stand firm in the faith when things get difficult, we need to prepare when things are easy, but how are we to do this?
Like an athlete preparing to race, we must not run away from every minor difficulty that comes our way. We need trials to strengthen our spiritual muscles. When you woke up this morning and realized you had a hard meeting ahead of you or a long and arduous day of physical labor, did you lament, or did you have confidence in the Lord to face it head-on?
Some of you are facing an illness that puts your faith to the test. Do not feel that the only way to have victory is to be healed. The sickness may be your faith’s training ground where it rises up to show the world what strength in Christ looks like in a weak body.
My point in all of this is that all your life’s adversities serve a purpose. We may want our spiritual life to be as leisurely as lying on a couch, watching TV while eating comfort food, but a body that does too much of that will rot and never win the race. Do not run from every difficulty that comes your way today. Trust in Jesus, move forward, and see what God can do.
Remember, faith is the victory that overcomes the world, and it is not a victory that expresses itself in glutted leisure. It rises in adversity. The reason faith is the victory that overcomes the world is that it is the gift of God. It is born of new life in Christ, and this life is eternal. The same power the rose Jesus from the dead is alive in you.
As Christians, we are not fragile. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We are to use wisdom in choosing which battles to fight when we have the option. Not being foolish is part of casting off the weight of sin that slows us down, but that does not mean we tremble at every tribulation and always back away.
The heaviness of this life not only proves our faith is genuine but also causes it to grow. For those of us who have been Christians for a while, we know this is true. It has been true our entire Christian life, so why do we often forget it? Why do we flinch at every fatigue? If death could not hold Christ, neither can it hold anyone who belongs to him. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, you are a person with unquenchable spiritual resilience. With confidence in your Savior, get in the starting block, set your eyes on the prize, and go run the race that is set before you.
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