So I had high cholesterol at one time. I didn't know it was high till random blood work by my employer revealed a total cholesterol number north of 320. That was over 10 years ago. At the time I thought, "Oh that's nice." with no plans to address the issue. It was here that a colleague who is much smarter than I suggested I do something about this high number. I thought, "wouldn't it be cool to take one statin pill and immediately have cholesterol numbers fall within a safe range?" That isn't how it works though. Statin drugs must be taken daily and over a period of time reach a certain level within one's body to combat the effects of cholesterol and plaque within arteries and muscle tissue. The tolerance level of the drug must reach the height of need based upon the level of imbalance. Clearly, you can tell by reading this I am no doctor or cholesterol specialist.
There are several things I do to help maintain healthier cholesterol levels. I take a 40 mg statin pill daily. I exercise moderately regularly. I watch what I eat. I take some extra supplements that are known to help balance cholesterol. It's all about lowering the high cholesterol number with increased measures. Just today I chose to go out for a run. Yes, it was 95 degrees with a real feel of over a 100 degrees. WHY? WHY?? Why would anyone with half a brain do this ridiculous act? For me, it's all about tolerance levels.
If I sat around on a couch all day every day and never did any exercise at all then even going for a walk today would have been taxing to my body. I have chosen to be moderately active so that my body has a fighting chance to control it's internal systems in the ways in which God designed them to operate. Running in today's heat was an exercise in growing tolerance within my body. Because I have raised the tolerance levels in my bodily systems with regular exercise, today was not a big deal.
I have come to see great parallels between my spiritual strength (faith) and how much it is tested. Have you had hardships come into your life? Have those hardships seemed like steam rollers? Have you experienced one hardship right on the heels of another one? Have you asked God, Why?" Has God offered an answer?
I am a strong proponent that my spiritual strength (faith) actually needs trial and hardship injected into it in order that it gains spiritual muscle mass and can withstand the next larger more painful episode. With each new trial, I am forced to trust God more with the outcomes and worry less how things will turn out. I'm leaning into God's faithfulness and love for me. It is almost as though our faith must gain tolerance levels toward trials in the same way our bodies gain tolerance toward exercise and stamina or toward an illness by the ingestion of helpful medications.
The apostle Paul was on to this notion here in 2 Corinthians. He understood that hardship is always part of the package when a person accepts Jesus as Lord. Check it out:
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:-7-18, NIV)
As long as we focus on our hardships and forget that our faith is still attached to the one who raised Jesus from the tomb, then we'll always have a faith that seeks mother's milk rather than solid food. We'll always have spiritual health that mirrors one who never opens the Bible and feasts on God's revealed glory. We'll always wonder why hardships hurt so much. We'll have to deal with anemic faith and unhealthy levels of doubt and fear that clog spiritual arteries.
Thankfully there is a cure. Begin a daily discipline of ingesting God's word. Chew on the word and savor its worth. Throughout the day bring the scripture back to the forefront of your thoughts and see if God isn't building your spiritual health stronger. With each ingestion of scripture comes a heightened level of trust in a God who has promised to never leave or forsake us. That is truth you can swallow.
"A Musing Pastor"