Crazy as it sounds, I love the feeling of sore muscles. They are like evidence to me that I was successful in my workout. I found those hiding muscles, called them out, made them work a little past what they were used to and now they offer me the proof of their obedience. Ouch, thank you very much. I can’t visibly see any results yet, but oh I will, if I keep at it, and I can’t wait.
As I live right now in the “hope” phase of a stronger body, I think of Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.” Isn’t it interesting how physical fitness can be related to spiritual fitness? All the things hoped for and all the things not seen… yet. Living in faithland can be difficult. There can be a lot of aching and groaning and moaning.
Just as we exercise our physical muscles and dig them out of hiding, trials in our lives cause us to dig deep into our resolve to overcome them. They cause us to pray more and seek the comfort and help we can only get from God. We delve into our stores of faith-related knowledge. We seek out those we can share our burdens with. We search the scriptures. Our spiritual muscles are not used to this, our heart complains. We ask “Why God?”
There are physiologic reasons why our muscles get sore when we workout. Taxing them past what they’re used to tears them up a little bit. They rebuild, bigger, better, stronger. So worth it, right? There are also reasons why suffering yields spiritual strength. Trials remind us that we are not in control here. We wouldn’t bring them on ourselves, knowingly, yet they find us, and we realize that in order to work through them we need help. The upside down way of God says that in weakness we are made strong. Just as when our muscles are torn down and rebuild stronger, when we are cast down by whatever bad stuff we’re going through, we can call on God and be rebuilt stronger. Those spiritual muscles get taxed and He turns our weakness into strength.
We must choose to exercise our faith. But, what is faith? Where do we go to find it? Faith is like the wind, impossible to see, but we know it is there because of how it effects everything it touches. Through faith we can see things as if they are already accomplished. Even when they are not actually… yet. Through faith, we are living between the now and the not… yet. We can tell when faith is taken out of the equation, by the lack of its effect. The language of unexercised faith sounds like, “This is never going to get better.” “You will never change.” “I will always have this problem.” “I will never have enough.”
Let’s say this again, Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV)
The dictionary defines substance as “actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance of shadow; reality.” Substance is reality – faith is the reality of things hoped for! If I have faith for something or in something, I see myself like a little child in line. Waiting her turn at the water fountain. I know I’ll get my turn. I can already taste the water because I will have it when it is time for me to have it. I can wait. The thing I am hoping for is as good as mine.
The dictionary defines evidence as “that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.” Through faith in God, the proof is in trusting Him. If you say you have faith in God and don’t trust Him, watch out – there is a problem with that. The evidence does not have to be seen during the hoping time because we know the God we trust has got this. We can wait and have the assurance that what is promised will happen. Faith carries us until all promises are fulfilled. You will see this throughout Hebrews 11.
This is such a good chapter to camp out in if you have been faithfully, patiently waiting for God to answer your prayers. You may be praying for something or someone for a long, long time. Not getting the answer you seek and most likely causing you a lot of pain and hardship. Me too. It is hard to walk by faith and not by sight. God never said it would be easy. He did say however, that it will be rewarded. It will be worth it.
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
We have to dig our heels into His promises and refuse to move into the land of hopelessness and despair. Faith-filled women don’t belong there. No matter what we see or if the land we dwell in is not yet what we know we are promised, we hang in there. And not just hang in. We flourish. We exercise our physical muscles and our spiritual muscles and keep hope alive because He lives. And He can be trusted.
James 1:2 has a recommendation that makes me kind of think that I’m not crazy to love sore muscles. It says: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” I believe he knew that going through trials that test our faith builds spiritual strength, just as the workouts we’re faithful to do build our physical strength.
Sisters, look differently at those things that challenge you to step out of that comfort zone. Step up to those things that used to send you into hibernation. Dig deep knowing that you can do anything through Christ, seriously, you can! Thank Him for the broken places in you that are evidence of a faith under construction. They will be built up, stronger than they were before. And you, more faithful than you ever imagined you could be.
(Scripture References: Hebrews 11, Philippians 4:13, James 1:2, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)