Being Grateful for the Pain
Can you remember going to gym after a long layoff? You go in feeling great – a little time on the treadmill perhaps, followed by 20 minutes on the stationary bike. You then follow that with some lat and trap pulldowns, maybe some leg curls, calf raises, and finish the circuit on the butterfly machine. Time for a quick water break, then spend 10-15 minutes doing some reps with free weights – bicep curls, wrist curls, rows, and bench press.
“Man, I feel great” you exclaim afterwards. “Why have I not been doing this?” You go to bed that night super-pumped about yourself…then you wake up the next morning. Every tiny movement in your body is grueling. Ow! Ow! Ow! You have pain in areas you didn’t realize you even had muscles!
The reason for your pain? The phenomenon is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and it happens because when you workout, you actually cause damage to muscle fibers. Fitness and nutrition expert Harley Pasternak, M. Sc., shares how pain=gain.
“The idea behind resistance training is that you’re basically tearing something and creating a microtrauma in the muscle,” Pasternak says. “When the muscle recovers, it’s going to recover stronger and denser than it was before.”
It’s easy when it comes to physical growth to accept – and even welcome – the notion of “no pain, no gain.” We are all familiar with this, and know the sacrifices involved in training and working to become physically stronger.
Did you know that the SAME principle can be applied to our lives? When we go outside our comfort zones – whether by our own choice, or as a result of circumstances outside of our control – we can benefit greatly! Nobody likes going through unexpected and unwelcomed heartache. But, the truth is that we will never reach the point of spiritual and emotional growth and maturity without going through those painful seasons in life.
Simon Peter knew all about this later in life. As a younger man, he was careless and outspoken, often to his detriment. However, looking back on his life, Peter understood what God was doing in him through difficulty.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT)
Next time you lace up Brooks or Saucony sneakers for a run, or head to the Y, or head to your crossfit class, remember Peter’s words. Then, think of a time when God took you through a painful time, and how you were different when you came out on the other side. Chances are, you can count the blessings that came from the trial, and you can see how God was at work IN you and ON you to shape you into the person He has designed you to be!
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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