Difficulties are like spring training

By Dale Siers, Pastor,
Trinity Chapel,
Little Falls    

It’s spring and I am beginning to see a few bikers out now that the roads are free of snow and the air is getting warmer.
How exhilarating it is to coast downhill with the wind whistling in your ears and “pushing your face and hair to the back of your head” and watching the speedometer climb to Tour de France speeds.
It is so easy to be proud of speeds reached with so little effort; after all, gravity is doing most of the work. The real test of bike riding is when you are struggling to push the pedal when you are going uphill and the wind is against you and every muscle feels the strain. You see, great strength is not developed from coasting downhill, but comes from exerting yourself on the uphill push.
Our life-journey is full of ups and downs. When the economy is good and the bank account shows a surplus it is easy to coast. When our life is filled with comfort and love and most things are moving in a positive manner it takes little effort and it is easy to coast. It might even be easy to become overly self-confident and boastful.
But the real test of character comes when we encounter a steep hill of adversity and the wind suddenly begins to change against us, when ‘love’ fails us, when everyone seems against us, then the pedaling becomes harder and harder and progress becomes agonizingly slow. At times like this it feels as if it would be easier to give up than to continue uphill, because, after all, if we turn around we can coast downhill.
But, thankfully, God allows us to go through these hard times of adversity to give us a chance to develop and grow the spiritual “muscle” that is necessary to become a “winner” when, and if, we focus on God and trust in his word.
Our future muscle development is built from the adversities that we overcome today. If our life bicycle ride were to be simply a ride of ease, prosperity and harmony, then I am afraid that the by-product would be a celebrity-type ego but with little or no real character development.
Isaiah 40:28-31: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”