Muscle Growth Comes Only Through Stress
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
As I’ve mentioned previously, I truly enjoy going to the gym. I love competing with my buddies, but I also enjoy the process of personal growth. At the gym, I’m continually working to become better and stronger. Muscle grows through progressive overload. This means that if I want to get stronger, I must regularly subject my muscles to the stress of heavier weights. As I do this my muscles adapt. Then I must add more weight – or stress – to keep them growing. This approach is accepted as fact now, but there was a time when the medical community eschewed weight training because it was thought to produce too much stress on the heart. Now we know the opposite is true. A healthy body require regular physical stress. We don’t get healthy hearts or muscles though constant rest and relaxation.
As my pastor often says, What’s true in the physical world is true in the spiritual world.* Whether I like it or not, I usually grow spiritually the most during the hard times. Looking back on my life, I can see that it was during my worst trials that I most desperately sought God. It was when I had nothing else to rely upon that I learned to rely upon God alone. Unlike weight training, I don’t purposefully seek out life trials, but life has a way of producing them anyway.
In today’s passage, James, the brother of Jesus, opened his book by telling us that we must choose a radical perspective when we experience trials. He said we should look at our tough times as opportunities to grow our faith. He didn’t claim that God specifically caused our misery to teach us a lesson. He simply said that in our trials, we must choose the perspective that we should grow through them.
It would be maddening if I put my body through misery at the gym without ever seeing any growth. The pain would be pointless. It’s also a waste of time then if I go through life’s trials without learning anything. I may not enjoy the tough times, but in them, James said that I must turn to God, learning and growing. What is it you want me to do here God? What are you trying to teach me? How must I change and adapt?
We grow the most under stress. So, when stressed, we must turn to God, asking how he wants us to respond. Whether we like it or not, life produces trials. We might as well grow through them.
*From Pastor Keith Kerstetter, Willmar AG