"And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.
And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:20-21 (Amplified Bible)
I have gotten back into going to the Y to work out everyday after a summer of being a couch potato. It is downright embarrassing how much stamina I have lost and flab I have gained over the months of not being in the gym working out these muscles. What used to be relatively easy for me now seems unbelievably hard. And it doesn't help that there are floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the length of the wall in each workout area. I try my best to avoid looking at my reflection in those unforgiving panels of glass. I came home today wondering out loud why it is so hard to stay fit. I have found that what used to work just five years ago doesn't do the job anymore. Oh, the joy of being forty!
One of my dearest friends and I were discussing our weeks yesterday. We had both had pretty lousy weeks--the kind in which the fight to hold on to the ground we have gained is just that--a fight. One of the tactics that the enemy pulls on me over and over again is to tell me that this life with Jesus should be easy. I can get so discouraged so easily. I am typical of my generation--I want instant gratification and a quick fix. If I have to wait for something longer than my patience for it, I can quickly lose sight of the goal. I have decided that my spiritual stamina is a lot like my physical stamina. If I do not work out, I will not gain strength and endurance physically. The same applies to my spiritual endurance.
Yes, through Christ I am an overcomer, but He expects me to fight the battle. He doesn't just give me the victory. He wants me to see what I am made of. He also wants me to see what He is made of. I would be a terrible parent if I always fought my children's battles for them. They would never mature. And frankly, they would be the biggest brats on earth. I can so easily forget that I don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against forces that are unseen. Jesus never said that my life would be easy here on earth. In fact, this is what He said:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
Then [Jesus] said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 (NIV)
Trouble and denial of myself are two things I run from. But to live this life for Christ well, I must expect both to be part of my experience with my God. I will never be happy doing this life my way without Him.
So what is our trouble today? What has us in the dumps? Could we ask God for His eyes? Perhaps He is growing us up, getting ready to give us new blessings from new levels of responsibility. Or maybe that sinful habit just will not go any other way than through the furnace of trouble. Do we trust Him even when have a lousy week, full of discouragement, that He is always at work on our behalf? Can we actually say thank you for this rough spot He has us going through because we know that He is our Daddy who knows what is best for us?
Jesus, forgive me for my attitude this week. Forgive me for not trusting You. Give me eyes to see that You are as present with me in the good as in the bad of life. And give me the eyes to see that You use both to make me more like You. Help me to run this race with perseverance.