Do you know how muscles are made strong and increased in size and definition? In order to be made strong the muscles first must be destroyed. When you exercise to the point of pain or quivering...you are destroying muscle fibers. (Thus the pain). But, here’s the good part: when the muscle fibers repair themselves, they add extra fiber, extra strength and bulk.
That just made me think. This morning I was reading Lamentations chapter three. The prophet gives a long list of the damage God has worked for him to endure. He wails and bemoans the pain he has gone through...and then on a dime, he turns around and says “Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!” And then he proceeds to praise God and to tell of his love for Him.
I also just finished reading a book called “Waves of Mercy” (by Lynn Austin) and it was the story of a Dutch settler who came to the wilderness of Michigan as one of the first groups who arrived in what is now Holland, Michigan as they were fleeing religious persecution in Holland (the country). Originally the young lady was headstrong and selfish...and with each hardship and tragedy that befell her, her heart rebelled against the hand of the Lord who was behind each event. However, by her later years, the years of hardship and suffering had formed her as a piece of iron in a smelter’s fire having been pounded into useful shape by the anvil of the blacksmith. She was a godly woman who was able to look back and rejoice in the ways God had increased her faith “muscles” and she was an encouragement to all who knew her.
We don’t like to think that God can or will cause us heartache, pain and hardship....but the Bible is quite clear that God is in charge of EVERYTHING and he is the author of our lives and everything that happens to us. He hates suffering. He “does not willingly afflict the sons of men”...but God knows that our faith muscles are weak and need to be strengthened and the way to do that is to cause those muscles to be stressed and broken in order to grow back stronger.
Mental illness almost completely destroyed me in my y0unger years. I was furious with God for allowing this suffering into my life. I refused to pray or to yield to His hand...and His all wise response? To turn up the heat. To increase the stress on my weak and failing faith-muscles. When I finally came to Him, broken and hurting...He rejoiced over me with singing and began to repair some of the damage He had wrought in my life.
And that was not the end of it. God had greater plans for my faith. Mental illness once again worsened and on top of that, my physical health broke down, first with severe asthma and life threatening infections...and then with a painful autoimmune disease. And now I struggle daily...and my faith grows. I have a long way to go before I am the godly woman God envisions for me to become but now I see His hand in my pain and I can say, “Thy mercies are new every morning. GREAT is Thy faithfulness!”
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT