A few months ago, I joined a fitness center. I needed to start exercising, and I figured one gym was as good as another, so I picked the one closest to my house. Convenient, right?
How was I supposed to know it was the toughest gym in town?
I drag my bottom out of bed at 4:30 a.m. three times a week to get my muscles stretched and hammered by a drill-sergeant fitness trainer shouting stuff like “work it!” and “you got this!” When really all I’ve got is sore abs and a scowl on my face.
I do not enjoy exercise.
But I do enjoy the results.
In the past three months, I’ve gained strength and endurance. My energy level is higher, my shape is more defined, and even though my attitude toward exercise still isn’t great, I respect it. It’s pain with a purpose.
Pain in general is like that.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3–5, NLT).
It’s easy sometimes to doubt how much God loves us, isn’t it. When He allows hurt in our lives, we wonder if He’s watching or caring at all. Like my fitness trainer, I mean, if he really cared about me, he wouldn’t subject me to those push-ups, right?
Except he does care. He knows I pay my monthly gym fee and show up to class (at 5:00 in the blessed morning, heaven help) because I want progress. And those push-ups will get me there.
Sometimes God demands spiritual push-ups. And they hurt. They annoy us. They’re exhausting. Yet they’re shaping us in ways nothing else could. They’re for our good.
So be encouraged. Whatever you’re going through, God is on your side. And He is leading you every day toward the hope that does not disappoint.