Job loss. Job find. Traumatic accident. Drastic paycut blamed on the economy. Waiting. Schooling issues. More waiting.
So many of you could post your own list of challenges that you have been facing as well.
But in the current of uncertainty I have to remember what I truly believe: Challenges are opportunities for growth.
I like this quote by John Maxwell:
Change is inevitable; growth is optional.
In the midst of our challenges, will we look to see how the strain will ultimately be of benefit? Are we on the lookout for new buds of growth?
I've spent my early mornings reading from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This excerpt from August 2nd has had a profound effect on me.
Chambers writes, "God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength."
When I read that quote, I consider the other activity I have been doing daily. A few months ago, I began working out using The 30 Day Shred dvd. In 3 different circuits of the workout I do resistance moves. Sometimes the resistance is my body weight and other moves incorporate 5 lb weights. I can see muscles! I have more tone.
I am stronger.
In the strain of resistance I have developed strength. It is not an invisible, intangible strength. With the increase in strength there is a noticeable ease of stooping and rising, in carrying loads and in my level of endurance.
Psalm 29:11 tells us, "The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace."
I consider that God allows certain trials, certain challenges, into our lives as a means of strengthening us. Perhaps the strength we acheive in the strain comes from resisting the temptation to simply quit. To give up on pushing through the pressure of the weight is to give up on what is sure to be the result ~ growth.
As I push my body up from the floor in the strain of push-ups, and as I follow the trainer's instructions for pressing the 5 lb weights, the goal is not to go about my day doing push-ups nor is it to carry around 10 extra pounds.
No, the goal is to strengthen me to do real life.
James 1:2-4 instructs us thusly, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
You see, the purpose of my workouts is not so I can do push-ups and lift weights. The purpose of my workouts is so that I am made stronger and healthier for life beyond my workouts.
When James writes that we may be perfect and complete, perfect carries the idea of being fully developed or mature. Complete underscores the thought of fullness and wholeness.
To count it all joy is not a giddy, emotional reaction rather it is a deliberate appraisal to see the strain from God's perspective.
The strain, the trial, the challenge results in the strength.
"The strain is the strength."