November 16, 2023
By: Andrea Maher
I force myself to exercise daily. I don’t like it; my body doesn’t like it. But I do it despite the hard work, monotonous routine, and painful outcomes. It is the benefits that I gain when finished that keeps me going like weight control, improved health, and a good dose of endorphins to fire up the brain.
There is another distaste that runs parallel to this idea but is limited to those who are Christians — and that is the process involved with gaining spiritual muscle. Spiritual muscle is even more crucial to the body because it is what sustains us during the everyday trials and tribulations that life throws our way.
Paul compares the need for self-discipline and training in a believer’s life to being more important than athletic training. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). He is comparing the discipline necessary to grow spiritually to the mastery of an Olympic athlete who disciplines his body to win a race. Like weight training is the resistance necessary to build muscle, so our faith is the means to gain spiritual strength as we face resistance. Having a flabby faith muscle will diminish our relationship with God.
“For without faith it is impossible to please Him for He who comes to Him must believe who He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). So how does faith correlate with spiritual muscle? It is taking God at His word. It is walking through hard times without the benefit of knowing the outcome, but knowing Who holds the outcomes. It is trusting the character of God when everything around us is falling to pieces.
Faith is the requirement for pleasing God because it allows us to see beyond the naked eye.
The Lord told Joshua and his people to put their feet in the water and the river will part. Joshua could have said, “Lord please part the water first and then we will step in.” But he didn’t. He obeyed and guess what? The river parted. This is how God desires us to become people of faith. Not only to take a step in a dire situation where we can’t see what’s in front of us; but to also walk forward when what we see doesn’t make sense to us. Faith is an action.
Strong faith is essential for survival. It is not something we can purchase, but we have access to it as the Bible says, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). And like money, faith is no good unless you use it to remain spiritually healthy.
Remember when Jesus fell asleep in the boat while the apostles fought off a storm. They woke Jesus up in a panic to which Jesus rebuked them asking the question, “Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40) They had lived and walked with Christ heard his messages and saw his miracles and yet their faith waned when faced with unseen forces. No judgment here. I do the same thing when I’m thrown into an uncomfortable situation, and I have the full council of God’s Word available to me. Instead, I panic. I ask, “Where are you God?” “How is this going to work out?”
I must remind myself that God enlarges us when we are brought into circumstances that oblige us to exercise faith by leaning into Him. The troublesome situations become the necessary weight to create a healthy resistance that will strengthen our spiritual muscle.
Never forget: It is a Sovereign God who brings you into the storm; an omniscient Savior that sometimes leaves you in the storm; but a Providential God that works within His will and pleasure that leads us out of the storm in due season.
Faith is knowing that through it all He is our anchor regardless of the storm.