My step aerobics instructor is incredible. Not only did she commit to teach the class at our church twice a week, as a volunteer, but she has transformed the “just step aerobics” into a full body workout. She’s a wife, a mother of three, a full-time employee, and she is totally dedicated to what she considers ministry. This workout class isn’t just some wimpy little freebie minimal workout either. When you walk (crawl) out of that class, you will know you had a “for real for real” workout. Our instructor believes in giving her best and she encourages us to give our greatest effort as well. Often she tells us, “Don’t stop because it hurts! Keep moving!” Now, I have to admit, when I first heard that, I thought she’d lost her mind. How in the world was I supposed to keep moving when my thighs felt like 400 pounds of lead and my calves were burning to no end! Then two years ago, I experienced a pain like no other. I gave birth to our almost 8 pound baby boy. I found out why it’s called labor and I also discovered that no matter how bad those contractions hurt, I couldn’t stop birthing. When one of those can’t-walk-can’t-talk contractions hit, there was no way I could say, “Hey, Doc, you know what? Since this hurts so unbelievably bad, I decided to keep the baby close to me right here in my belly…forever. How ‘bout we stop these contractions and then everyone could just go on home?” Had that even been possible, I would have missed seeing him smile at me for the very first time, the most incredible blessing ever.
In an effort to have a more active lifestyle, I take some sort of activity break during my workday. Today I decided to walk the stairs from the 8th floor to the 20th floor. I was once again tempted to stop not even halfway through because it hurt so much. I was panting and my entire lower body was aching relentlessly. Then I was reminded, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” (Psalms 30:5b KJV). I will never reach my weight loss goal if I give up every time exercising gets uncomfortable. I would have never experienced my baby squeezing my finger for the first time if I had given up during hours and hours (and hours) of labor. I would have never completed my Master’s degree if I’d quit because the classes were hard. Our marriage won’t last if we throw in the towel every time the going gets tough. I won’t maintain my career if I “go off” whenever I feel agitated. The point: I have to get through the night in order to make it to my joy.
How can my faith mature if it’s never tested? What type of witness would I have if I waved the white flag whenever the cards of life dealt me a lousy hand? I hear you saying, “But you don’t know my story. You don’t know what I’ve had to endure.” Yes, you are absolutely correct, I don’t know. But I do know my God, and His promises to His children are the same regardless of your situation. “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten as we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed,” (Isa. 53:5 NLT). You see, Friend, He knows a little bit about being hurt, both physically and emotionally. He knows what it’s like to feel forsaken during your darkest, most painful hour. Yet He promises never to leave or forsake us. You’ve heard it time and time again, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength,” (Phil. 4:13 NLT). It’s in your hurt that you have the opportunity to apply this mighty Word, from our mighty God to your overwhelming issue. Test out the promise! Through your tears, cry out to Jesus. Praise Him in your season of pain. Watch Him work a miracle on your behalf. He will get you through the hurt, but you have to be willing to keep moving during the process. He knows exactly how you hurt, but He knows how to heal you as well. “There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, love for the broken heart. There is mercy and healing. He will meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus,” (Third Day).
I’m sure you remember Yolanda Adams singing, ”There is no pain Jesus can’t feel. There is no hurt that he cannot heal. For all things work according to His perfect will. No matter what you’re going through, remember God only wants a chance to use you. For the battle is not yours, it’s the Lord’s”! God knows and He cares what you’re going through. He allows testing sometimes in order to see what’s really inside of you. Will you pout or shout, will you really trust him like you say you do, knowing that ALL things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28)? Whatever God allows, He fully equips us for and He has a purpose for. If He brought you to it, He’ll definitely bring you through it! That’s not a catchy Christian clique, that’s the Word! Weeping may endure for a night; “but joy” really does come in the morning. How can you get to your “but joy” if you give up in the midnight hour? I want my “but joy” blessing. Not only is that also a promise from God, but Jesus is the perfect example. He was tortured, mocked, lied on, made fun of, betrayed, and the list goes on and on, but not once did He give up or change His mind. He did not abandon His mission to save us. He kept pressing on and stayed the course, even though he had done nothing wrong, all because He loved us. You cannot convince me that didn’t hurt Him on every level possible. He was crucified, felt the sting of felling abandoned, died on the cross, and was buried in a lonely grave….oh “but joy”! On the third day He rose, having defeated all death and darkness! Christ did all of that so that we can have the Holy Spirit reside within us. Since He got up, surely we can get back up again, and again, and again, no matter what obstacles in life may knock us down. We owe that to our Savior because of the massive price He paid. We really can say truly say “Victory is MINE if we trust Him enough to hold on to His unchanging hand. As much as it hurts, sometimes we have to get down in order learn a few things about growing up by looking up to the Master. No matter what, just don’t give up. I want my “but joy” and I hope you do to. It cost Him too much for us to just leave it on the shelf. In the words of my all-time favorite ministers of music, “Go get it!” Whatever the pain is, I know the joy is greater.