When Things Go Wrong... You're Getting Strong

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I am not creative with my workouts. In fact, I like to do exactly the same routine with little to no variation. Boring.

I alternate days between the treadmill and strength training, 5 days a week. I always watch Dr. Phil while working out. I sweat, puff, and struggle my way through. I don't enjoy one bit of it in the moment.

Meanwhile, my friend, Theresa, teaches Zumba. This means she dances- dances! to music, in front of a class, nearly every day. And she is fit! I’m 100% sure she could dance the entire day away. I’ve seen her dance moves- full of vigor and life and vibrance. There is no boring in her workout at all.

We both get the job done, in our different ways. My choice of workout totally fits my personality (rigid, orderly, organized). And so does hers, free and full of enthusiasm. We are moving our bodies, accepting the discomfort, with the promise of greater well-being. It works.

The Faith Muscle

Faith is the very same thing. It’s a muscle that benefits from use. Do you know how faith invariably gets developed? It’s not through walking lunges or catchy hip hop tunes. The secret to faith development is….

When things go wrong.

I know! I would have chosen a different design for faith development, but then- I am a big lover of comfort.

Listen to what Ingrid Ord (ACT therapist in the UK) states:

Practicing how to act in faith (this is a different quality of faith from the ‘free gift’ kind of faith, we have to work at this one)- The work involves exercising our faith ‘muscles’. We practice this best when things are going wrong. Just like lifting weights in physical exercise, the heavier the weight the more exercise we get. (When things are going well we don’t really need to do much work)

When things are not going well we might experience anxiety and fear about money and provision or status or health, or anger about threats or insults. The work of acting in faith involves noticing the emotion and the thoughts that accompany them, and then remembering God’s promises and our relationship with Him as Father/Shepherd. If we do this then it becomes possible to let go of finding our own solution and developing patience.”

Yes. When things go wrong, we are getting a killer faith workout.

Muscle size increases when a person continually challenges the muscles to deal with higher levels of resistance or weight. This process is known as muscle hypertrophy.  Muscle hypertrophy occurs when the fibers of the muscles sustain damage or injury. The body repairs damaged fibers by fusing them, which increases the mass and size of the muscles.”


Strength is developed as a result of damage or injury. Faith is developed in exactly the same way.

Are you, like most of the rest of the world, going through a tough time at the moment? Are things going wrong in your world? Your faith muscles are being assaulted, you feel the damage and injury. And this is a very, very good thing. You are in the middle of an extremely effective faith workout. Right now, you may felt bent over, clutching your knees, trying to catch your breath.

But you are likely days or weeks away from realizing the gains. In fact, the benefits will last a lifetime.

You are growing. You are getting stronger. Fit. Prepared.

Getting Stronger

It doesn't feel good now, but God's design is that you will come out the other side in a better place than you were before. There is a future you, an even stronger, more resilient, deeply faithful you, waiting up ahead. For now, we just lean into the character of the One in whom our faith is placed. Can He really be trusted? Will He really provide? Will He really heal? Will He actually show up in the ways He has promised? 

He has designed each person's individual spiritual fitness routine, knowing exactly how to achieve the highest level of strength and well-being. For me, He created a workout routine that might look boring from the outside- but wow, it’s all I can do to get to the other side. For others, He’s got an exciting Zumba class planned, with lots of creativity and vitality and music and jumping and dancing. He’s got a personalized workout plan for each of us, designed with our unique flourishing in mind. Got a hardship? That's a targeted faith muscle getting strengthened even as we speak.

The end result will be a deeper knowledge of who He is, and why He can be trusted.

He is:

  • JEHOVAH-NISSI, ‘The Lord our Banner’ the MIGHTY CONQUEROR

If things are going wrong, it’s not because you’re a failure. It’s because your faith is about to expand. Look forward to the gains. And the whole point of spiritual growth? More trust in God=better everything.

*My long-distance friend, Ingrid Ord, is an Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) therapist in the UK. This article is based on a portion of a document Ingrid crafted (please feel free to download it in its entirety). To learn more about Ingrid and her work, click here.  She moderates a Psychotherapy for Christians listserve here and a facebook group here. She is a gentle, wise, patient, long-suffering, grace-oriented leader.

Today's Core Belief

The faith pains are bringing faith gains.

Today's Action Step
Don't try to fix the things falling apart in your world today. Wait on the Lord, and watch Him bring growth and victory from it all.

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