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.
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.