While rummaging through my house, I came upon two tiny dumbbell weights—1 lb a piece.  They were so small, they almost looked like toys and I certainly don’t remember how or why we ever came to own them.  I laughed at the visual they presented, thinking how one would look if these weights were actually incorporated into a workout routine.

Can you imagine a football coach giving a pep talk about the importance of hard work and sacrifice in the weight room, whipping the team into a feverish pitch and screaming, “What are you waiting for? Get busy!!”—and then presenting them with the tiny dumbbells?  It would be absurd.

Resistance helps us grow

Little Resistance Builds Little Strength

That which makes a weight beneficial for working out our bodies is resistance. The more weight or resistance we handle, the stronger we get.  So, we lift bigger weights.

The Weight of Life

We often talk of the “weight” of life, by which we mean strife, troubles, toil, adversity and the like.  What is the essential characteristic of these things?  It is also resistance, such as when we experience blocked goals, difficult and demanding people, or overly challenging tasks. If we think about it, handling such resistance in life also develops us, but not our physical strength; rather, it develops our “inner strength” or character.

As with physical weights, the bigger the “life weights” we handle, the stronger and greater our character.  For those of us with relatively happy and safe upbringings, the resistance we encounter in life increases as we leave home and strike out on our own paths.  That is really as it should be, for we could hardly expect our character to develop and strengthen if we only encountered the tiny troubles of our childhood.

Perseverance and Inner Growth

The psalmist knew of resistance when he exclaimed, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.  I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7).  And James, the brother of Jesus, emphasized the relationship between our inner growth and handling the weight of life when he wrote these startling words to some early Christ-followers undergoing persecution:  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

The apostle Paul made the same point, writing to his fellow believers in Rome that “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-5). That hope won’t be disappointed, he continued, “because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

A World of Good

Every now and then, I meet people who actually look forward to working out and lifting weights. I think they’re crazy, but maybe they are on to something. Maybe what gets them excited is not all their sweat and effort as they grunt and struggle with the resistance of the weights, but rather the positive changes in their bodies that they know will result.  The Bible encourages us to view the struggles of life the same way, focusing not on how difficult they are or will be, but rather on the positive changes they will produce in us.  So let’s get busy and lift those weights! The resistance will do us a world of good.

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