When I Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. Exodus 1:12
I want to be in good physical condition. To get in and to stay in good shape though, requires hard work – every day. To get where I want to go, I must put myself through the uncomfortable. God made the world in such a way that I don’t get in shape by eating chips and watching TV. I only improve my physical condition through discomfort. Basically, I improve, grow, and get stronger, through pain. This is a problem. I don’t like pain. It hurts. So, I try to avoid it, embracing the comfortable. When I see an advertisement for a product on TV that promises fitness without the pain, I’m intrigued. But I also know that it’s a lie. I can’t grow and maintain muscles by choosing easy.
For better or worse, this is a principle that applies to other areas of our lives as well. If I want to grow professionally, I must put myself in positions that make me uncomfortable, so that I adapt, grow, and learn. If I want a good marriage, I must put in considerable effort, abandoning the things that hurt my spouse and embracing that which communicates love to her, even if that means cleaning a toilet or two. Growth comes, not through the easy, but through the uncomfortable.
This is the lesson of today’s passage. You’ll recall that Joseph previously moved his entire family to Egypt to escape a famine. The Israelites were welcomed by Pharaoh and made their home in Egypt. When Joseph died and a new king rose to power however, the relationship between the Egyptians and Israelites deteriorated. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites, treating them harshly. The more they were oppressed though, the more God blessed them and the more they multiplied. The Egyptian’s efforts at subjugation only made the Israelites stronger.
Growth comes through times of stress. We may not like this, but we know it’s true. Looking back on our own lives, we can see that we’ve grown most during the toughest times. When have we prayed most desperately to God? Not in times of comfort and ease. And that is an important point – We must turn to God in the tough times. Not all pain leads to something better. We’ve all known those whose trials have made them bitter and angry. If we go to the gym and simply bang our head against the wall, that doesn’t make us stronger. Growth depends, in large part, on our response to the pain. In our trials, do we turn to God, asking him what he wants us to do? Or do we indulge in our worst nature, embracing resentment? If we desire to grow during our trials, we must daily go to God, asking him – What do you want me to do with this? Then, we must do it.