I’ve been working out with a friend of mine. Jaco is a real exercise buff as evidenced by his physique, and I’m not as is evident from mine.
The other day, I came in and Jaco asked me how I was feeling. I said that most of my body wasn’t in pain even though we intentionally targeted those parts. His response scared me, “I’ll make sure your back hurts tomorrow.”
Then it hit me: WORKING OUT IS SUPPOSED TO HURT.
Muscles are built when we stress them out and then rest them. Stressing them out means carrying things at our limit, then when we rest our body rebuilds the muscle bigger than before. If we don’t rest, it won’t be rebuilt. If we don’t stress them, it won’t be rebuilt. It’s supposed to hurt.
And life is the same way. Life doesn’t get easier. Many people avoid responsibility, stress, and pain. They are skilled at creating excuses for why they can’t do something, why they need to “treat themselves,” or why something is not their job. While they may have avoided the stress, they have also missed the opportunity to build muscles.
Obviously, you can be over-worked, over stressed, and over anxious. But many people today don’t even get there because of work and stress avoidance. Work and stress are part of life!
The problem isn’t the stress, you see, but not resting afterwards. Both elements of the cycle are essential: feel the stress and get the rest.
When I was in college, my dad asked me why I was so grumpy lately. I said I was stressed with all the exams and requirements of finals week. He said,
“You live in a house you don’t pay for. With facilities and amenities you don’t pay for. Studying in a school you don’t pay for.
If you think this season in your life is stressful, just wait till you graduate and work for a living.
Then think about getting married and paying for someone else’s life. And wait till you have kids. That gets even more expensive.
Your life is not gonna get easier than it is right now.”
I was overwhelmed by all this. So I asked him, “What can I do?”
“Joe, don’t ever forget this. Life doesn’t get easier. We just get stronger.”
So there you have it. God allows difficulty, stresses, and pains to our life to make us stronger. If it hurts, it’s suppose to. But as you rest physically, rest relationally, and rest in God, you’ll recover. And you’ll grow muscles – physical muscles, emotional muscles, intellectual muscles, work muscles, etc – that make you stronger.