Suffering Produces Character…

…and character produces hope.

This is one of the most perplexing bible verses.

It helps to note that the word character comes from a Greek word that describes the approval that comes from passing a test. BUT HERE’S MY DILEMMA: the entire process requires the pressure of affiction which moves me out of my comfort zone. It kicks me out of my Lazy Boy onto the hard floor of life.

Endurance cycling does this. The very theory behind exercise is to repeat a physical activity until we adapt to what hurts. I LOVE the results. Sometimes I really dislike the process. But the image and congruency with following Jesus is compelling. Let me give you an example.

Sometimes I run away: shorten the ride, avoid the hill, or coast whenever possible. Sometimes it just seems too hard. So it is with following Christ. I’m tempted to play it safe and avoid the tough stuff. But when I face the miles set before me, it gradually changes me. What was tortuous becomes easier, and a new world of possibilities opens up. [Like a north to south bike tour through the mountains of Vermont this summer]

When we serve Jesus outside our comfort zones, it transforms us. Insurmountable challenges become manageable when we function in God’s economy. We live and move in a God who never runs out or runs short. In fact, he’s never overwhelmed or at a loss. When I can’t figure out how to get it all done, instead of counting the cost I need to count on a God who comes alongside me and gives me the endurance to keep going. In this lies the approval that comes from passing the test: trusting God to be bigger than any hill.

For what it’s worth, I positively CRUSHED 66 miles and 2000′ of climbing last week. It was evidence that suffering does its work. Better yet-encouragement to welcome the Spirit’s tests this week.

Grace & Courage!

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