Links Daily Devotional

Suffering to Strength

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10, NIV)

Prior to the mid-1990s, strength training was not considered useful for a golfer. Strong, visible muscles were believed to be a hindrance to flexibility and a fluid swing. During my college playing days and early years on tour, I did cardio for endurance and push-ups and sit-ups as an overall body exercise; otherwise, working out was not a norm.

Then Tiger and Annika did the unimaginable. They showed up at the beginning of a season looking more like competitive weight lifters than golfers. As their performance soared, so did permission for golfers to build strong, powerful bodies.

In order to build a stronger muscle, there first has to be a stress created, causing the muscle fibers to tear. As the muscle fibers rest and heal, they become stronger, more stable, and develop more stamina. A muscle gets stronger through feeling the pain of suffering.

In today’s passage, Peter writes, “After you have suffered a little while,” then you will be made strong, firm, and steadfast. Suffering has been, and will continue to be, a part of our stories until we meet Jesus face to face. And yet, God himself will use the pain of our suffering to restore us and make us stronger.

Our souls are like a muscle, needing resistance to grow and mature. We don’t have control over the amount of resistance (suffering) we experience, but we always have a choice in how we respond to it. The good news is we don’t have to rely on our own strength to figure. When we allow the God of all grace to be with us in our suffering, our spiritual muscle of resolve keeps our hope alive and our hearts soft; our souls find strength to stay the course set before us; and our spirit finds a firm and steadfast foundation from which we can resist the evil one who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour (verse 8).

Developing our capacity to respond to suffering in a way that leads to strong, firm and steadfast spiritual muscles takes time, discipline, and perseverance, especially when our hearts are weary. Personally, I have a great amount of fortitude and discipline to exercise my physical body every day. On the other hand, I often struggle to spend time with God—reading his Word, praying, and simply enjoying his presence—making this a priority in my day.

I desire to build my spiritual muscles and a few months ago I made a conscious decision to spend my first moments of the day with God. I brew a cup of tea, nestle into my couch with my devotional, and practice being in the Lord’s presence. I have also been challenged by a friend to simply sit in silence, resting and listening for Jesus to speak to my heart. This takes a great amount of discipline for me because I am easily distracted by all the things that need to get done for the day. Five minutes can seem like an eternity and feels harder than an intense workout.

The benefits of strength training far outweigh the pain and suffering that is essential in the process of building more muscle mass. The same is true for our spiritual muscles. Sacrifice and suffering is the training ground where God restores our spirit and makes us strong, firm, and steadfast.

Tracy Hanson
July 30, 2015
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