You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3
So, we made it through the first month and have now transitioned into the second month of 2015! If we’re to be honest, many of us are already getting weary in some of the New Year resolutions we made or some of the goals we set for this year. Perhaps January was not as fulfilling a month as you expected and you’ve entered February all but excited and expectant. I want to first of all normalize those feelings of weariness and frustration as we all have experienced them. Secondly, I want to encourage you, in the words of my personal trainer, to “work through it.”
In the scripture quoted above, Paul encouraged his son/mentee in ministry (Timothy) to “endure hardness like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” At the time Paul wrote this letter, he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel; and many Christians were being persecuted and killed for their beliefs. Yet, Paul’s word to Timothy was ENDURE; which is defined as: to carry on or work through; to undergo; or to sustain without impairment or yielding.
Recognize as you go through this year that trouble and hardship will come. There are challenges that you will face that were specifically designed to stretch you, test your resolve, and build your character. Especially for those of us who are Believers, the Bible already tells us that, “Those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). From a spiritual standpoint, as soldiers of Christ, some of us have been experiencing blatant attacks from the enemy, simply because we have determined to fulfill our God-given purpose come what may. For others, the “attacks” may be more subtle, taking the form of weariness, frustration, discouragement, and even hopelessness. This then spills over into our everyday life and relationships, and can cause us to feel defeated. But, before you throw in the towel and quit, let me encourage you by sharing some lessons I’ve learned from working with a personal trainer for the past month.
“Working out” for me feels a lot like warfare (and no, I’m not exaggerating or being dramatic lol). Because I have never really gotten into the habit of exercising (aside from walking, and doing my occasional belly dance aerobics routine I purchased from a $3 bin in a video store), my muscles aren’t used to the training that they’re now undergoing. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t contemplate not going back to the gym – but I’m determined to press on. Looking through my spiritual lens, I see my personal trainer much like I see Jesus. He comes alongside us when we feel weary and are about to give up, and He speaks words of encouragement and life – “Work through it!”, “Finish strong!”, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”, “You’re doing a good job!” In addition to the praises and encouragement, however, there are times a little tough love is necessary when we’re about to break under the weight of a burden or task that we’re telling ourselves we can’t handle – “If you don’t finish this set, you’re gonna have to start over.” I remember the first time my trainer said that to me, I thought, “How heartless!” lol. But, as I reflect on this Christian walk, how many times has GOD made us repeat a test or training because we didn’t get it the first time or because we gave up mid-way? If He allowed us to just stop when we felt like we couldn’t go anymore, how would our muscles get developed? How would we learn perseverance through the sweat, pain, and tears?
I have so much respect for my personal trainer, firstly because I know it takes a LOT of patience to deal with a softy like me; but moreover, because it takes a strong level of commitment to not only push people toward their goals, but to come alongside them and partner with them in the process. That’s what God does for us through the Holy Spirit – He comes alongside us and partners with us in our sufferings and tests. Yes it’s hard and yes there are times we may want to quit. But it should encourage you to know (or be reminded) today that you have a Personal Trainer committed to your becoming process and Who’s constantly encouraging and giving you the strength to “Work Through It.”
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for the situations that we face that cause us to depend more on You for strength and endurance. We thank You for the times You’ve cheered us on in the heat of the struggle and for the times You’ve made us repeat tests we did not pass. We realize that we are being trained as soldiers in Your army and that these exercises and life tests are building our character. Give us the resolve to “work through it” – whatever our “it” may be – and thank You for the people You’ve placed in our lives who push us and partner with us to help us accomplish our goals and become all that You have called us to be. Amen.