I had a love/hate relationship with the training. I enjoyed the challenge but often asked, “Why am I doing this to myself?”
Race day was no different. There were moments of highs and lows. One in particular was as I neared mile 18. My energy began to drop and I feared I was about to hit the infamous “wall” where the body threatens to shut down. My legs became heavy and it took more effort to move them.
As I came to the 18th mile marker the course tuned into a city park. It was there I saw a man holding a sign that read…
Where there is pain, there is life.
Yes the pain I felt at that moment was, well uh…a pain. But these words revitalized my spirit and showed me the power that can be found in discomfort.
One, I was accomplishing a goal I held for over 15 years. Big aspirations require hard work, struggles and moments of doubt. Goals teach us to push our limits. They take us out of our comfort zone and remove the unstable crutches we mistakenly depend upon. It is here that we are able to clearly see God’s hand holding us up and revealing to us what we are able to do.
Second, my pain reminded me that I was overcoming an obstacle. Two years prior I struggled to walk after having knee surgery to reconstruct my ACL. Now I was running and fulfilling a dream (well, some may not define my speed as actual running but that’s beside the point.) Hindrances are not pleasant and can be overwhelming but once you’ve passed them – whoa – what a rush of triumph. No interference that God allows in our life is unbreakable unless God is using it to redirect our course.
Third, the pain proved to me that my body and spirit were fully alive. The marathon didn’t just challenge me physically but also mentally and emotionally. Every part of my being felt the pain that day but every part also celebrated as I crossed the finish line. When we turn off part of ourselves in order to avoid pain or discomfort, it begins to atrophy. Before you know it you’re only partially alive and not experiencing the abundant life Jesus offers.
When you avoid discomfort, you avoid life. If Jesus had avoided the pain of the Cross we would have missed out on the gift eternal life and the power of the resurrection.
Pain is multi-tiered and the level I’ve discussed here is pain in its simplest form so I pray I haven’t hurt or offended anyone who is presently dealing with a deeper. My desire is only to encourage the avoidance of building a permanent boundary around our lives that prevents us from experiencing life and God abundantly.
Is pain or discomfort something you try to avoid?
What has God shown you in the midst of painful trials?