We all know what it is to train and excel. If a certain athlete wants to excel in his sport then he needs to find the right training regimen. A sprinter will need to do lots of running, different kinds of sprints, lower body weight lifting, and lots of stretching. A boxer will have to spare, run, jump rope, weight train, and do cardiovascular fitness. A tennis player will have to play lots of matches, run, do fitness work, weight training, and work on specific shot drills. So what is a Christian’s training? What can a Christian do in order to become the best Christian he or she can become? Well, the answer might surprise you.
Some might say a Christian’s training is to read the Bible. Some might say prayer or sacrifice. Some might say giving or even working in the church. Although all of these things are good and necessary, they are only the surface. There is one thing a Christian must do in order to become a strong Christian. The Christian’s ultimate training is suffering.
To read the Bible, to pray, to sacrifice, to give, all of these things are good but they are not training. They are more like food for the Christian so that he is able to train. The actual training is the suffering. So you might ask. Ok, so how do we suffer (train)? Easy, you obey.
We as Christians cannot create our own deserts or valley’s of suffering. Whenever we do this then we leave ourselves exit places so that we really don’t have to change in the areas we really need to. We’ve made a decision to go this far, but we won’t go that far. When we suffer through this sacrifice then we are still in control. The ultimate suffering comes when we loose control. This can only happen when we ultimately obey God. When we do this He engineers our deserts. And, when He puts us in a valley or desert of suffering, it is not one that we can get escape from. He is the author and the finisher of this valley. The only thing that will get us through is our obedience through suffering. Controlled suffering is not real sacrifice. Real suffering comes when you are not the author of it. This only happens through obedience and it allows God to put you in the exact place he has ordained for you to grow.
1 Samuel 15:22
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
We as human sinners cannot see how simple obedience can be heavier or greater than ultimate sacrifice. How can simply listening to God be harder than fasting, than penitence, or than even total denial? This is how. When we create for ourselves lives in which we dictate our own sufferings then our sufferings are engineered by us. This puts us in complete control. Because we are in control then we have the say, and even if the sacrifice is demanding, it has been orchestrated by us. When we obey God then he becomes the orchestrator of our suffering. He brings us into the perfect place, or situations, in which we need to grow. When we allow him to do this then we loose all control and we are at his mercy. This allows God to perfectly Lord it over us. Through obedience we are now in the valley or desert he wants us in, and it is here, and only here, that we will experience lasting suffering that will ultimately change us for the better. We can sacrifice all of our lives but if we do not sacrifice in the areas we need to then we will never change and God cannot effectively use us. It’s like a sprinter doing bench presses. A sprinter needs to do leg lifts, leg weights, not chest weights. If he decides to do chest weights then he is going to suffer but that same suffering will not do him much good in the race. We as Christians sacrifice, but we pain ourselves in areas we are not going to benefit from. We fast when we should eat and we deny ourselves when we should partake. But then when the Lord calls us to visit our Grandma we say, “No, she’s probably tired and she won’t get much out of the visit.” Not knowing that all along God had a lesson of love He needed to teach us there.
If we do decide to obey God in the little things then trust me when I say the obedience will get tougher. In the beginning God called Abram to follow Him but in the end He told him to kill his son. Our simple obedience now will turn into painful obedience later, but God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). Just know that this is the call of the Christian. Once a Christian’s obedience has made him perfect through suffering, then that same Christian has walked in the same steps as our Lord.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Author, Scott Shuman
*The opinions expressed in this testimonial are those of the author, who is solely responsible for content.* Editor, THE EDIFIER