Weakening vs Strengthening

Have you ever noticed that we don’t usually
if we are “slipping.”

Think of exercise. If you go up a flight of thirty stairs and the only climbing you usually do is to climb in and out of bed, you feel the stretch … the pain with each step and you feel the stiffness the next day. If you aren’t accustomed to running, but you take off down the street at a full jog, you won’t last long and you’ll remember your excursion tomorrow. Even something disguised as exercise like painting a wall  OR *ouch* … a ceiling!!! Yes, painting *grimaces* can be painful for some. If you don’t generally do some type of upper body workout, you’ll feel the soreness in your arms the next day.

The last time I went out for a run (which was an embarrassingly long time ago),  I started thinking about the “slide.” What happens to us when we are in the habit of keeping our arms buff, our waist whittled or our legs in shape for a good sprint … but we begin to slip?

If I run one mile a day, five days a week, but I skip a week, I don’t feel a discomfort afterward.  If I hit the gym three times a week, but find one week too exceptionally busy to make workout, I don’t feel my body weakening. If I take time out of the day to do crunches by the dozen, I won’t experience any pain if I choose to skip three days.

…. that is, I won’t feel any pain
UNTIL I find myself needing do a strenuous exercise
that requires great strength from my arms, legs or abs.
… I will be uncomfortable.

And we all know that the discomfort of this type is a symptom from the tearing of our muscle, right? As the strands of muscle are stretched and torn, they must rebuild .. but that takes a few days. As it rebuilds, our body is sore. But, that discomfort is a symptom that we are getting stronger – that we are growing. A workout with no resulting pain at all means that
the workout didn’t stretch us,
cause us to grow stronger,
break us down so that we can be rebuild and strengthen.

So, here’s the thing: If we aren’t in any physical discomfort, our physical body hasn’t been stretched and strengthened lately. At best, it has remained at status quo.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

If this is the way that our physical body operates,
isn’t the principle the same with our spiritual selves?

I think on spiritual pains …
the loss of a loved one … to death or divorce
the loss of a job
struggling with a disease or illness
an estrangement between friends
a cutting insult that might hold some truth
some type of exclusion
conviction over a particular character weakness
consequences from a certain participation in sin
struggling with children, siblings or parents
anxiety due to increased need for money
or decreased accessibility to it.

Each of these situations brings with it a struggle that is unique
and each struggle is personal.
And like walking up that flight of thirty stairs, we will find ourselves tired and winded at the end of the climb.
The next morning there is stiffness and ache. But, oh, next week! Next week, should we find ourselves at the foot of those stairs, we will find that they are easier to climb because we have recently made that ascension.

We know that we are strengthened when we exercise.
Should we …
go looking for spiritual exercise?

That one has r.e.a.l.l.y made me think.

The best action I can muster up
in my cowardly, comfort-loving state
is to stretch myself to reach out to others
in the situations that I find myself
and know that
any pain that comes my way
should be considered a gift from God.

And that is where I am left …
looking for God to move in my life
and asking Him to remind me
that every pain …
… any discomfort
is an integral part of growth
and should be considered
a personal gift
from Him
to me.

I wonder if
there is such a thing
as spiritual motrin?


One thought on “Weakening vs Strengthening

  1. And once through the “pain” the next struggle that comes along either doesn’t “feel” as bad or you have the energy to muster it. Getting on the other side of any hill changes the scenery and gives you confidence and hope to challenge the next climb. Nicely done, Karen. You are an encouragement to me.


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