Feel the burn!

“No pain, no gain.” This saying is quipped by many as as a catchy way to explain how improvement comes through uncomfortableness. It is the mantra of sportsman, bodybuilders, and all sorts of physical competitors. They pride themselves on the difficulty they embrace to perfect their skills or deepen their abilities. I’ve seen guys pounding each other’s sore muscles leaving the gym- “Feel the burn!” they chant as they leave a particularly intensive workout.

Runners, weight lifters, athletic trainers all speak about that “good” pain. That “good” ache. Their body screams in agony, but they themselves fill with joy- they know that they have pushed themselves farther. They know they will be stronger. They know that their ultimate goals are just that much more in reach.

It’s funny how such a thought could be so obvious on a physical level, but completely escape our minds on a spiritual one. James tells us,

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

The temptations and trials you face- even your failures can be stepping stones to the victory you seek in Christ. When we are surrounded by pain, suffering, loneliness, betrayal, and temptations of all sorts- We should rejoice! The Christian life isn’t about comfort. It’s not about having everything just so. It’s about going through all of life’s hardships with confidence in Christ’s ability to bring us through stronger.

Every fear you face, every trial you endure, every temptation you forgo- you are growing. You are maturing. The pain of failure, the ache of regret, the weariness that you feel- all throw you into the arms of the Savior. They drive you closer to your God.

Be encouraged by it all! Every trial is a reminder of how much you need Christ! In Christ, you can be encouraged that your failures are not the end, and they don’t define you. Your regrets can be wiped away by joy and hope in God’s plans. Your weariness can be replaced by His strength.

Be encouraged by pain. Be joyous in tribulation. Be elated at the sight of trials.

Without such we might never feel our need for Him, we might never experience His power to perfect us, and we might never see how much He loves us and wants to empower us.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” Romans 5:3

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Praying to be persecuted?

As Christians, we often like to think things of our God that are not really correct. For instance, most Christians around the world do not consider religious persecution a good thing. But in fact, the Christians enduring persecution around the world often consider persecution a blessing. They ask for prayer, not to stop the persecution, but that God would give them strength to endure. Sometimes, they even pray that God would send persecution to places such as America so that the apathetic church would be purified.

You see, our perspective is not always right. Our thoughts, are not God’s thoughts. He is higher. He is greater. His understanding is so vastly greater that we can’t always fathom what goes on in the mind of God. Sometimes, we think that a worldly perspective of an "easy" time is a good idea. This isn’t exactly right.

Psalm 34:19 says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." We might look at that verse and be taken aback. Aren’t the righteous those who are serving God? Why would God allow them to have affliction? Doesn’t that sound inconsistent with God’s love for His people? From our perspective perhaps, but we don’t have the full picture. In fact, I didn’t even quote the whole verse.

The rest of the verse says, "But the Lord delivereth him out of them all." God will not leave His people in affliction. He won’t forget them. He’s right there with them. He allows it for a purpose. When God allows affliction in our lives, and then delivers us out of it, we get to see his kindness. Imagine how much affliction He protects us from! Also, The troubles of this life act like a refiners fire to make us stronger.

Like Paul said in Romans, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" – Romans 5:3