In strength training, athletes make use of machines and free weights. Machines offer guidance. The machine guides the athlete to ensure proper form. However, it is the lack of such guidance that makes free weights more effective. Without structure, the lifter’s movement may drift and other muscles have to compensate for balance. This builds more muscles and requires more exertion.
Spiritually speaking, we usually prefer the “machine” lifestyle. We know that there are certain challenges to experience in life. We just want the path and solutions to be clear cut and easy to follow – like a machine.
And for some reason, we tend to think God has forgotten us or allowed us to drift out of His control when life’s challenges can’t be handled in machine-like function.
But could it be that God is completely in control – and that He is growing us through a “free weight” moment?
Romans 15:5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Notice this is written to believers – those “justified by faith.” But that doesn’t mean everything operates like a machine. Instead, this passage calls us to rejoice when we get a “free weight” spiritual workout, which produces “sufferings.”
Why would we rejoice in suffering? Because just like free weights produce muscle growth and stamina in physical training, suffering produces endurance and character in spiritual training. And all of that training is for a purpose: to “produce hope.”
In other words, it is through the sufferings of this life that God transforms us into people who are more like Christ. This, according to the verse, is an act of God’s love that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
In strength training terms, the Holy Spirit serves as our trainer, walking through the suffering with us, empowering us to endure and grow.
Maybe you have found yourself in the midst of a divine workout with “spiritual free weights.” Be encouraged – the Holy Spirit is with you, encouraging and strengthening you.
And don’t forget, the workout is temporary – but the results are eternal.
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