We exercise to improve our heart health and we lift weights to build and tone our muscles. But what about our spiritual walk? What do we do to stay hopeful, encouraged, and faithful when it seems as if God isn't listening or answering our prayers? We may feel despair, dejected, and plain old depressed. But it doesn't have to be this way. God assures us that He will never leave or forsake us, so then why do we feel forgotten? Why do we feel so alone? Because, in times like this, the gym may be a great place to exercise to help you get your body in shape, and a run along the lakefront may be a great place to get out and clear your mind. But for the believer who affirms there is a God, and yet in the same breath feels lonely, lost, and left behind--running and lifting won't do it. For these occasions, you need to exercise your faith by building spiritual muscles. It is the only workout that will get you through the sometimes dark and lonely hours.
Here are three ways to build spiritual muscles:
1. Wait on God. It may be hard. It may seem as if nothing is happening. And every part of your flesh wants to DO SOMETHING, because we don't equate waiting with doing, and yet, that is exactly what we should do, for waiting is an exercise that builds our spiritual muscles. Waiting gives us strength.
A popular Scripture that teaches us this can be found in Isaiah 40: 31 which says, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." We see from this verse that waiting invigorates and rejuvenates us. The Message version gives us an even better depiction. It reads:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isa 40: 27-31).
How awesome is that! While waiting on God, we shouldn't be getting tired. We should be excited and energized!
2. Draw your strength from God and not on your own self-reliance. Don't take matters in your own hands. Usually while
waiting, we get frustrated and antsy, and again, want to DO SOMETHING. In times like these, don't rely on your strength. Ephesians 6: 10 tells us to "...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." It's His strength that sustains, not our own. Now this doesn't mean that there aren't positive things we can do to keep ourselves busy so as to not go crazy during periods of silence. Believe me, I know! As someone who an entire year without a job, or unemployment, or interviews, or anything; and yet, every week I was in church hearing about all the love God has for us, but feeling as if that must be for everyone else because it seemed He'd forgotten I existed--I know how it feels. But I speak now from a place of complete blessed assurance that God is ALWAYS at work, even when I'm not. Or like the cliche says, "If God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it." I know. For me, I had nothing to exercise during that time, but my faith. And it worked! Now that I've made it out of the wilderness, I can tell you that I have been blessed beyond measure!
What was the other exercise I did to build my spiritual muscles and make it through the wilderness? I saturated my mind with the Word of God. I focused exclusively on His promises. This leads me to my last point to exercise your faith.
3. Focus exclusively on God. Not the doctor's report. Not the Dow Jones. Not the news. Not the latest business reports. Not career updates. Not the latest on the economic rise or plunge. Not on the health prognosis. And especially not on the blessings of others. To exercise your faith and build spiritual muscles, you must "fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" (Heb 12: 2).
So if we're waiting, we are gaining power.
When we're reliant on God, then we are strengthened by His power.
And if we are focused exclusively on Him, our faith is being made perfect. We are becoming like Paul. God is teaching us contentment so that we can be happy and assured no matter what happens. Whether we have a job or not, we can be content. No matter what the doctor reports finding, we can know that we are covered by the blood of Jesus and healed by His stripes. No matter if we have a steady income or periods of drought, we can know with complete assurance that the Lord is a provider and is right there with us. We are not alone.
Exercise your faith. Build your spiritual muscles. And be blessed!
I'm a wife, mom of six daughters, fitness instructor, health and fitness promoter, writer, dancer, trainer, and lover of the Lord. My passion is inspiring and motivating others to live "In FITNESS and In Health." If you'd like to receive these messages daily, fill out the Email Subscription box above. It's free and there's no Spam.
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Plus, I also won $1,000 for losing 10 pounds as part of the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge Project 10 initiative which rewards people who commit to lose 10 lbs at a time, and donates 30 nutritious meals to a child in need for every 10 lbs a person loses, or 10 lbs of lean muscle gained as part of the Project 10 initiative. Every Monday, Vi rewards 10 people with $1,000 each, and you can win too! Visit my website to learn how.