No Pain No Gain

The term “no pain, no gain” came into prominence during the exercise boom of the 1980’s. Numerous fitness instructors repeated that phrase often in exercise videos. The original author of that phrase was actually Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in his autobiography, “there are no gains without pains.” The exercise message behind that phrase was to workout past the point of experiencing muscle aches. By doing so you would lose weight, be in better shape, and be more healthy, all of which leads to a more fulfilled, happy life. That phrase, and variations of it, have been used by sports teams, corporations, in physical therapy, and numerous other places to motivate people to push beyond their comfort zone, knowing the end result would make them better. There is a great spiritual application in that lesson as well. James 1:2-3 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
The joy that James was referring to wasn’t a cheery, jumping up and down, happy feeling. He was talking about an inner sense of calmness, peace, and confidence in the Lord. We all have, and will continue, to face difficult circumstances on our journey toward Heaven. Sometimes the suffering and pain is a result of our own sin and poor choices. There are other times that we just don’t understand the reason behind the suffering we are experiencing. Job was there, and he lost everything for a reason he didn’t understand. He lost his children, his health, his material possessions, and experienced the ridicule of his wife and friends. How did he respond? He said, “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:23-27).
Job didn’t understand the reason for his suffering, but his faith in God never wavered. Suffering trials is very difficult, especially when you pray for deliverance and none comes. What physical suffering are you going through today? What relationship in your life is falling apart? What financial crisis are you going through? Job grabbed ahold of the rock that was higher than he, and so did David, as recorded in Psalm 61. “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:1-2).
God may not deliver you from the storm you are going through, but He will be with you every moment. Very few people have experienced the suffering that Joni Eareckson Tada has endured. A diving accident at the age of 17 left Joni a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. She prayed long and hard for the suffering to end, but it did not. She would later embrace her suffering and say: “God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as His chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependency on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. My weakness, that is, my quadriplegia, is my greatest asset because it forces me into the arms of Christ every single morning when I get up.” Joni had, and continues to have, great confidence in her Savior! The God of Job, the God of David, and the God of Joni Eareckson Tada is your God too! He is more than able to give you the strength to endure your suffering, to make you better, and to help you see that PAIN CAN BE GAIN!