Often times, I use the gym to illustrate my perspective. I see people come in, day in and day out, who are scared to death. Some are scared because they have never tried something as difficult but are even more scared of not getting better. Scared of dying. So, into the gym we go where, everyday, we’re given a “to do” list. Most times, this list involves movements, weights, times and distances that leave us overwhelmed. Believe me when I say blood, sweat and tears are common elements in the gym. Because of this, we’re often tempted to find the nearest exit until the next time we “feel like it”. Thus, putting off another opportunity to become better.
On the other hand, we’re given the opportunity to engage. Faced with what is absolutely necessary for us to become well, we pick up an enormous amount of weight and, suffering for a short while, we give it our all because we know that this is a path that will lead us to being better. This isn’t blind faith. We have a knowledgeable and experienced trainer who instructs us what to do, how to do and when to do. For someone to walk in and attempt to knock out 150 kettlebell swings at 55# without knowing how would be suicidal. So, fearfully, we tap in and listen to the voice of wisdom and proceed down a path to become better. We pick up the weight and go to work.
I recently heard someone say one of the most repeated perversions of scripture. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Really?... Please, hear me when I say THAT’S NOT WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS. 1 Cor 10:13 says, “No temptation has overcome you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Satan tried to tempt Jesus on several occasions when he was physically and mentally weakened. Satan, the master of deceit, was doing what he does in order to distract Jesus and hinder him from righteousness. Even in a weakened state, Jesus was unwavering in his pursuit of glorifying the Father. He could have taken the easy route and enjoyed a temporary pleasure, resulting in a diversion from God’s plan.
Suffering, however, is a separate issue. Fast forward. Jesus, face down, clawing the ground of Gethsemane, distressed to the point that his capillaries burst, praying, “Father, let this cup pass from me.” He didn’t want to die but knew that this suffering was absolutely necessary to glorify the Father. Through his sacrifice, we are extended grace. In like fashion, we as Christ followers will also suffer. Jesus reminds us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus completed the work then invites us to follow him into a life of righteousness. Even Paul, being committed to worship, said in Romans 8:18, “I consider that these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed in us.” It’s called sanctification, folks, and it involves a process.
We, as Christ followers, are not exempt from suffering. Maybe it’s job loss, broken marriages, natural disasters or the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s recognizing that God has called us to a specific service at a specific time and place and, because it’s not the “normal” thing to do and find it difficult to rationalize, we’re labeled as fanatical or crazy. Think about it. Most of us know someone who has been in a position of "I can't take this anymore.", and it's meant quite literally. IF we were able to deliver ourselves from that suffering, we would never utter the words "Oh God!" Devastating things happen that leave us completely broken. It's when we are genuinely spiritually shattered that God is waiting to revive the hearts of the contrite. This isn’t a blog intended to scare but to paint a clearer picture of the path that we’re called to. Until you realize what God has planned for you, you haven’t truly lived.