How are you doing in your Christian walk? When God sends difficult situations your way to prepare you for what may be yet to come, do you respond as He would have you respond? Or do you try to circumvent the good He would otherwise accomplished in and through you?
“He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:34 NIV)
Today’s verse was written by David, the second king of Israel and a great warrior, yet it is equally applicable to us today. When you’re training for battle, you can’t just get right in there and fight: you have to train first. Initially, your arm muscles aren’t strong enough to do the things that are required of you, but as you exercise and develop them, eventually you CAN handle the real stuff. Of course, these days soldiers aren’t usually required to bend a bow of bronze, but you get the picture. You have to train.
Spiritually, it is the same for all of us. For David, defending Israel against her enemies in battle WAS his service to God–that was what God was literally training him for. Today, we are usually not called into physical combat for God, but as we submit to His training, we are called to greater and greater battles, nonetheless.
So, let me ask, how do you respond when God sends difficult circumstances into your life? Do you respond like a spoiled child, whining and complaining? Do you conclude that God must not really love you because He can’t keep bad things from happening to you? Or do you recognize these circumstances for the spiritual muscle training exercises they are?
I am currently reading Corrie ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” to our youngest daughter, and recommend that any who have not read this book make sure they do, because it is an excellent example of God’s battle-training. Corrie’s family lived out their faith by hiding Jews from the Nazis. They were eventually caught, and she and her sister were placed into a concentration camp where she continued to minister Christ to the women around her. She survived, but her greatest test, perhaps, was even later. After a public speaking engagement, one of her former guards–a man who had caused so much misery–came up, beaming with his new-found understanding of Christ’s forgiveness. Because of everything that came before, because she had accepted the painful training God had previously sent into her life and had allowed it to mold her into the person He wanted her to be–she submitted to Christ’s prompting of love and forgiveness, rather than withhold it as her flesh desired.
God does train us. He strengthens our hands for battle and our arms so that we can bend that bow of bronze when He presents it to us, which we could not yet, at present, bend. The big question is whether we are working with, or against, Him.
I have been going to physical therapy for a bad left hip for over a month now. I do the prescribed exercises while I am there quite well, and leave each time feeling so much better. Yet when I get home, it is difficult to find a time to work the twenty minutes or so into my daily schedule, and for almost the entire month, failed to get more than a day or two done between sessions. Whether intentionally or not, I was not working with the therapists–I was not submitting to their training for my own good, and because of that, they were not able to give me any further exercises which would help my hip feel even better.
Eventually, I got it together and began doing the exercises, but is that what we are doing spiritually? Are we forever running away from the training God sends into our lives? When bad things happen, do we allow ourselves to get derailed? Do we react in a way that fails to brings Him glory? Or, do we respond in praise and obedience to the One who loves us, who cares enough to allow His children to suffer a bit now for future good and trains us to be able to be more and more useful for His kingdom?
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Help me to submit to Your training. Give me Your grace to respond to each circumstance You allow into my life in a way that glorifies You–that reflects You correctly, that helps others see You and know You better. Help “patience have its perfect work, that… [I] may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Amen.