As I laid in bed, muscles sore and body inflamed, I thought about the marathon goal before me. I only ran 6km yesterday and here I was feeling the pain of recovery. Is this what I am signing up for? A continuous cycle of pain and recovery? A part of me wanted to quit. Another part considered the joy of completion. I had a choice to make.
Christ never hid the fact that our journeying with Him would involve pain of many sorts. Indeed, He gave us a promise of a glorious end in His everlasting Kingdom, but also shed light on the need to carry our cross and endure to this glorious end. The joy, privilege and benefits of sonship should not overshadow the process of growth and maturity. This process involves the cycle of pain and recovery. We would need to train ourselves in godliness and in the use of the Word. Our faith muscles must feel the strain of growth. We would need to pass through uncomfortable situations and rely on healing Grace from God. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, but it develops in us when tested to the limit by intolerable situations. There is no other route to glory.
Paul, at the beginning of his race, saw the full picture. When he came to faith, Jesus instructed Ananias to tell him that he, Paul, was “a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” To us all He said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” But every cycle of tribulation “is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The discomfort we feel in the flesh when compelled to walk in the Spirit is a sign that we are developing Spirit-muscles for the entirety of our race. We cannot name and claim a glorious destiny. We have to train and strain for it. No training, no reigning.
So, the pain of the moment made me think about giving up my running mandate. I must banish the thought! If I focus on the pain, I will forfeit the gain. If I focus on the gain, I will find Grace for the pain…
Lord, I choose to carry my cross and run!
References: Matthew 16:24; 1 Timothy 4:7; Acts 9:15,16; John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 4:17