Learning to Grow Through Pain

Learning to Grow Through Pain

As a hockey player, one of my favorite stories is that of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. As laughable underdogs, they came together to defeat one of the greatest hockey dynasties in history. 
But this was not a matter of chance, or luck, but the product of fierce determination and training. Coach Herb Brooks told his team, “I can’t promise you that we’ll be the best team at Lake Placid next February, but we will be the best conditioned.” He then told his players, “Be prepared to grow through pain, gentlemen.” Those hundreds upon hundreds of line drills, off ice workouts, and brutal physical training paid off. 
This sentiment is not one that is original to Herb Brooks though. No, Paul penned this idea in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. But even he can’t be given credit for this original thought. In today’s reading, we find 4 oppositions we may face in our lives. 
Moses and Aaron, and subsequently the children of Israel faced opposition from the wicked. When Moses and Aaron asked for permission to worship the Lord, Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord and why do I care what he wants?” In our lives, there may be pressure to avoid certain activities because the unsaved don’t understand why we would “waste” our time on “religious activities.”
Job faced opposition from his friends. Eliphaz spends the whole chapter basically saying, “Job, you’re not anything special, so quit acting like it. I don’t know what you did, but you probably deserved this for something.” God disagreed with that sentiment in Job 1, but Eliphaz wasn’t privy to that conversation. 
The disciples faced physical/natural obstacles in Luke 8. As Jesus slept in the boat, the disciples feared for their lives in a Mediterranean storm. When they wake Jesus in their panic, he chides them for their lack of faith (but that’s getting ahead of ourselves!) 
Finally, Paul also suffered opposition from the church! Certain believers were chastising Paul and Barnabas for working to support their ministry. “Well, Paul, if you just had faith, you wouldn’t need to work…” Paul undoubtedly felt a measure of frustration at these remarks because he responds to them very directly. “So it’s ok for all the other apostles, just not for me and Barnabas?” You can almost hear the frustration in him as he pens this letter. 
So what happens when we face opposition from the wicked, our friends, fellow believers, or even physical obstacles? Fortunately, Paul gives the answer: be prepared to grow through pain. 
Don’t you know that in a physical race, only one person can be the winner? Prepared diligently, so that you can be victorious! How do we do that as believers? 
Undoubtedly, you will face obstacles in the Christian Life. As, Jesus told his disciples, faith is key to the other parts. If you are trying this in your own strength, you will fail. In addition to your faith, add determination and endurance. It’s easy to give up when it’s hard, but that doesn’t help you be successful. 
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” -Hebrews 12:2
“And let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9
Be prepared to grow through pain.