All pain is not unto death. On the contrary, it is there to make you better, stronger and wiser.
You may ask, “How do I know which pain is meant for my good and not harm?”
When the pain is not unto death. By no means am I suggesting enduring physical, emotional and verbal abuse. On the contrary, run for your life. That type of pain surely is unto death, either a physical or psychological loss of life.
In some ways, the pain I am speaking of can be called exercising rather than pain. We could even call it resistance-based results. These types of pain are not meant to harm but to benefit us and glorify God. These types of pain require physical and spiritual strength, confident faith in our bodies and the Lord, and to persevere, mental and godly insight.
The benefits of pain
Pain from exercising holds tremendous benefits. Most recently, my neighbors and I attempted a new biking route. The last two weeks, I have not made it up a particular hill. Once my thighs start hurting and burning, I stop, get off my bike and push it up the hill. I was so disappointed in myself.
As I walked up the hill pushing my bike, I thought: “Lisa, you have got to ignore the pain in order to get up this hill. This hill is not meant to harm you. This pain will not kill you but will strengthen you.”
In some areas of my life, enduring the pain of getting over the hill serves as an emotional healing as well as a physical accomplishment.
I’m grateful for 2 Corinthians 4:16, which reads: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly, we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
From an outward perspective, it may seem this hill is getting the best of me. Indeed, this hill is as much a spiritual and mental feat as it is a physical one.
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Disciplining our flesh
Paul wrote: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT).
Paul encourages us to discipline ourselves. Some versions read “batter” or “strike a blow” to the body. Strong’s Greek Concordance defines “discipline” as “to annoy” or “subdue.” To discipline our bodies—our flesh—through exercise is annoying.
In a similar manner, to read and act upon the word of God is an annoyance to our flesh. Because our flesh holds no good thing—including no good thoughts, emotions, feelings and will—it must be subdued and annoyed by physical and spiritual exercise.
Exercising our spiritual muscles provides us the opportunity to be faith-full athletes. It is a good thing to deal my body a powerful blow of physical pain through riding up a hill. Spiritually, speaking, a hill is a holy place where God’s glory is experienced (Psalm 24:3).
The pain is temporary
The pain of resistance-based results through weight training will not last forever, but the benefits are lasting. Despite the pain of a 45-minute to an hour workout at the gym, I walked out feeling like a million bucks.
I experienced this euphoric feeling because—with the help of the Lord—I made it through another workout, I overcame the fear of what my trainer planned for the day, and I thought eternally, thereby doing what was infinitely better instead of enjoying a temporary sleep-in.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV).
As Paul reminds us, it is not that our afflictions are light. My gym weights certainly were not light. It is that the pain passes and sometimes quickly, unlike the eternal weight of glory, which remains forever, firm and stable.
Resistance-based pain is not unto death but brings about positive results. Spiritual weight or pain works for our good, as well. How do we know when it is spiritual weight or pain?
One, remember this pain will not lead to a physical, emotional or mental death.
Two, if we are open and listening, God is faithful to send us a word to keep us going, inspired and hopeful.
Ignore the pain; it will help, not harm.
Lisa M. Rainey, Ph.D., is an experienced educator. She and her husband, Daniel, are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas. The views expressed are those solely of the author.