Getting Stronger Can Be Painful
Glynnis Whitwer

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

A month into my newly-begun exercise program I wanted to quit. It’s probably because I’m the least athletic person I know. I’ve also been told I run worse than a girl and I’m pretty sure I flunked the President’s Physical Fitness test in grade school.

However, since I know in my head that exercise is the only path to getting stronger, I ignored my body’s protests and pressed on. But each week I discovered a new pain somewhere in my body … my shins, knees and arms all groaned with the discomfort of being awoken from their sedentary state.

During one grueling exercise class, the instructor had us do a lower back exercise. At the first twinge of pain, I stopped. I knew that some pain could be dangerous and didn’t want to continue something that could be damaging to my back. Watching me stop, the instructor stooped down to my level with a questioning look on his face. “It hurts,” I explained.

“I know,” he answered. “This exercise is going to strengthen your back. Stop when you need to rest, but try it again. And each time, hold it just a little bit longer.”

My first instinct was to stop at the painful feeling. I know pain is one of God’s warning signals to protect us, and my self-protection instinct was fully engaged. However, in order to get stronger, I had to experience the pain.

Pain seems to be a common side effect any time we try to strengthen an area of our lives. Whether it’s trying again after a discouragement, loving after heartache, or forcing ourselves to organize our kitchen when we’d rather be watching a movie, life can be painful.

I’m sorry to admit that my instinct to avoid pain or discomfort has often kept me from achieving goals in my life. Part of this is because it’s difficult to differentiate the pain that we should avoid, like getting burned from touching a stove, and the kind of pain that makes us stronger. Pain just seems like pain – something to run from.

But some pain is actually good for us. One thing that has helped me determine when pain is helpful, is to look at the end result. Hebrews 12:11 tells of the promise of the pain of discipline: “a harvest of righteousness and peace.”

This “Big Picture” approach has helped me push through many painful experiences in my life. As a follower of Jesus, my life doesn’t hold the promise of ease. In fact, it can contain quite the opposite. Much of what God asks me to do pushes me past my comfort zone. And yet His promise of “a harvest of righteousness” is worth any discomfort.

So I guess I’ll keep exercising, and look at my pain as a path to strength. As I do so, I’ll thank God for the promise of a healthy end-result – in all areas of my life.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for loving me enough to provide discipline in my life. Help me to see which pain means to stop, and which pain is necessary for my health. I want to be stronger in all areas of my life so that I can serve You more fully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Note from the author: Pain is God’s warning signal. If you experience any persistent physical pain, please seek professional help.

Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

For help strengthening your finances, visit Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey's website. Through Monday, November 26, you can receive discounted prices on many of his best selling resources.

P31 Woman Magazine

work@home: a Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work From Home by Glynnis Whitwer

Application Steps:

Identify one area of your life that needs to be strengthened. What is one painful (yet healthy) thing you can do this week to strengthen that area?


What discipline did you resent at one time, but appreciate now?

Read James 1:2-4. (see below) What should be our attitude when facing difficult challenges?

What can help you persevere through some painful experiences in your life?

Power Verses:

Hebrews 12:10, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. (NIV)

James 1:2-4,Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really helped me try to get pass some of the failures I am facing regarding trying to get into the specific schools I want. Each time I receive a rejection letter my prayer life gets better. I run to God in tears and He comforts me. However, through that I find myself in communion with Him more now than ever. So this process of rejection has truly strengthened my dependence on Christ.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotional really hit home with me. I too started an exercise program with a trainer because I knew I would need someone to be accountable to and I really hate pain. Through this process God has shown me that he is not about "quick fixes" but perseverance. I expected the weight to just drop off - when you live a sedentary life you think that any little bit of exercise should show some immediate results, right? Well that has not been my case. It is taking me weeks to lose just a few pounds! But the bigger picture for me is learning to stay with the process because I do feel my body becoming stronger and each time I try that exercise that "hurts" and I want to stop, I am able to do a little more and am finding that I feel better about myself. It is spilling over into my spiritual life as well. I am a person who gets grandiose ideas but has a lot of trouble with the follow-through. I probably have 5 books started and not finished. I am learning to stay with God a little longer and wait on Him to answer my prayers (I use my treadmill time to pray - as I believe you suggested in an earlier devotional). I am finding that He is speaking to me more and more every day through His written Word and I am growing in strength in both my mind, spirit, and body. Thank you for reminding me that God wants us to build character more than He wants to give us a "quick fix". It is definitely worth the time spent getting to the end result.

Blessing to you!
Kathy Ridge
Halifax, PA

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

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