I was always a tall scrawny kid growing up. Playing basketball, I tried numerous ways to put on some muscle to save me from being thrown around by the behemoths I was tasked to guard. Invincible and wily as I was, I couldn’t seem to put the protein into my arms and shoulders.
It wasn’t until later in life, when we began renovations of our coffee shop that I put on some serious muscle in my upper body. I think it was the sheetrock. Dozens of sheets up to the second floor, up the scaffolding, and into their places on the ceilings and walls. From there, lifting, moving, and even tossing my growing child around required much less effort.
It’s the same spiritually. James writes in his letter to the churches (1:2), “Consider it pure joy, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be whole and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The trials and sufferings of life, when approached like a fitness program (rather than the fear evoking memories I have of middle school dodgeball), have the potential to turn us into strong leaders of faith, initiators of change, encouragers of the weary, advisors to the lacking, and guides for the lost.
It takes these heavy moments, these hard situations that we work through like warriors in training to make us strong enough to be the same audience Paul addressed in Romans 15: 1. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbor for their good, to build them up.”
If you’re going through a rough time right now, bring your workout to the gym. At the time of your struggle, struggle well. Grunt if you need to. Count your reps as you lunge into prayer. And know that somewhere in this church you’ve got a spotter who will cheer you on, get you a towel, and spot you so the weight doesn’t crush you.
If you’re just coming out of your trial, hydrate on the living water, fill up on the bread of life, and find the holy rest that God promises. Then, instead of relishing in the mirror - get out, look around, and find someone struggling to spot.
If you’re neither of the above, be ready for the workout, stay limber and healthy - you’ll need it. Become a trainer. And when it comes, don’t try to get through it on your own.
The task assigned for us is to be the body of Christ. We’re stronger together than any one of us alone. See you at the watering hole.
Sean King is the Pastor for First Christian Church of Cisco.