Today, I am grateful for the circumstances that have proven to be obstacles in my life – the detours, road blocks, and other surprises that appeared to derail me from my original destination.

I call such challenging events – and in some instances, people – “resistance”. While it seems strange to be thankful for the hardships of life, I can look back and see the purpose in them: to make me stronger, and to help me grow.

I’ve observed this also in my quest for greater fitness. When I exercise, my body leverages the resistance of gravity to challenge, strengthen, and eventually define my muscles. Such work isn’t easy (requiring consistent effort and dedication, for sure!), but it certainly has its purpose.

In the same way, resistance has its merits in the healing process. I am presently working with my physical therapist (PT), since an old neck and shoulder injury has resurfaced. I came to my PT because I was in pain, and his response has been to challenge my already achy muscles with strengthening exercises. At first, I balked, and asked him, “Why? My muscles already hurt.” His response was something to this effect: “Your muscles in this area are weak, and the only way to minimize the likelihood re-injury is by strengthening the muscles that are weak.”

And so we work: twice a week, with all sort of equipment – hard weights, fitness balls, resistance bands, etc. My PT says that I’m already quite strong in some areas, but am noticeably weak in others. These exercises help me to develop greater strength in these areas, and in the span of three sessions, I’ve already noticed a difference.

So it is with other forms of personal resistance in my life – the people and circumstances who challenge me in altogether different ways. They serve a purpose, even if their presence is profoundly painful at times. I can either lament the resistance, or do what my PT recommends: Identify strategies to work with it, so that I can benefit from it.

The past few months have been challenging, but by God’s grace, I can look back on the time and see that He allowed the resistance in my life so that the parts of my heart and character that were weak could get stronger. While I had very little say about when and how the difficult circumstances and people entered my life, I nonetheless had total control over how I chose to response to and engage with them. I still do.

I am also grateful for the recovery periods – the intervals of time where I can enjoy a period of relative rest and ease. However, as I have aged, I’ve come to appreciate that these rest periods are brief, and that I can anticipate more resistance in my future. Why? I still have weak areas, and there are opportunities where I can still grow.

Here is my prayer for today: Dear Lord, as ironic as this sounds, I want to thank You for the resistance in my life. If I’m honest, I really don’t enjoy it, but in retrospect, I can see Your Hand and purposes in it. I thank You that I am stronger than I was before, and I also thank You for giving me seasons (brief though they may seem!) for rest and recovery. Thanks for caring about me enough to allow the hard things into my life, because You love me too much to leave me just as I am. I am grateful that the resistance has fortified the weaker areas of my life, but only because – with Your guidance –  I have been able to respond to these hardships in a manner that honors You. I know that these experiences are preparing me for the next level of resistance that is coming my way, and I am thankful that You continue to be with me in the midst of my trials.

As it says it 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NASB),

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Thank You for giving me the strength to push through the resistance in my life. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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