Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

An interesting phrase. So short, yet the applications are virtually endless. To me it goes right along with the popular saying that anything worth having is worth working for. People go through situations like this all the time. This can range from the workplace, the classroom, and even in relationships. To get to a new level, we need to prove ourselves. I think the simplest example is that of exercising. Many people put themselves through uncomfortable experiences and challenges to test their and improve their strength, endurance, and overall performance.
In the situation of physical exercise, I believe that one of three possible outcomes will occur. The first is that someone will quit. The pain is too much for them and they just give up, accepting their limitations and becoming complacent. A second outcome is that one will get to a certain level and stay there. They reach a certain point and are comfortable, with no desire to go further. Thirdly, after reaching a point where they are no longer being challenged, a person can get into new and more difficult challenges to make their performance even better. This can be continued every time plateaus are reached so that performance can continually be improved upon.

If this sort of training and development can happen with our bodies, we need to realize that this is also true with our souls!

In life we go through many tough situations and trials. They are uncomfortable, but necessary. Just as we put ourselves through physical tests, God tries our spirits. Through this we realize what our weaknesses are as well as our strong points. We also can improve our spiritual performance.
Romans 5: 1-5 says:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into
this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of
God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

What we can see through this is the necessity of our trials. Hopefully through these rough situations we do not just become comfortable with where we are spiritually, but we grow. Many people wonder why they go through the same problems or situations over and over again. One possibility could be that they are going through the same tests over and over again because they keep failing! Instead of giving up and staying sad we need to remember that God loves us and wants the best for us. So there must be reason for our trials.
Sometimes our trials can be for punishment. Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV) states:
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God
disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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.

In our trials we need to stop and examine ourselves. What have I done wrong? Have I truly been acting like a Christian should? Is there someone I need to forgive? Am I doing something I shouldn’t be? Am I NOT doing something that I know I should? Instead of focusing on the problem, try to focus more on how to act during the problem. The reason could be for improvement for our spiritual lives as well as chastisement. Either way we need to trust God and get closer to Him.
Other times, we may not know the reason for our trials and it may not be meant for us to know. Romans 11:33-38 states:
Sometimes we need to just sit back and trust God; knowing that He is all powerful and all knowing. This can be frustrating, but Hebrews 13:20-21(KJV) gives us something to think about:
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that
great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting
covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,
working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to
whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Not our will, but God’s! Just like we can exercise our bodies and keep track of the physical changes, God is working in our spirits and is making something that pleases Him. As we subject our bodies to physical challenges, we don’t give up just because it hurts. WHY? Because we understand that the pain is for a purpose and we are becoming better. To a much greater extent, the Lord subjects our souls to sometimes seemingly unbearable challenges. WHY? Because He KNOWS that it is making us better. So the next time you just feel like just asking God, “Why am I going through this Lord!?” Just remember:

NO PAIN, NO GAIN!!!

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