Sherrel and I continually comment on how good we feel after a run. But we never comment on how good we feel before a run. For most of the year we run before the sun comes up, so we have to deal with the dark. And we have to deal with the weather… nothing to look forward to about the run itself.
Last winter, in crossing paths with another jogger, I made the comment: “Who in their right mind would want to be out in this?” His comment: “Yeah… but we feel good all day long because of it.”
The things that come easy are not appreciated as much as the things that come after some effort. Building a fire in the fireplace is more satisfying than just turning up the thermostat. Entertaining guests at home is more satisfying than just picking up their check at a restaurant. And the greater the resistance… the sweeter the victory.
I'm not suggesting we go out and look for trouble, so we can have a sweeter victory. I am suggesting we learn how to control those things that come against us with the authority God has given us.
But here in America, we are increasingly unwilling to deal with any degree of resistance. We don't want to deal with it because we don't understand its purpose in our daily lives.
Overcoming resistance however, is a part of experiencing true happiness. I didn't say “enduring” resistance is a part of experiencing happiness; I said “overcoming” resistance is a part of the good life. Yes, there is a certain amount of endurance required, but it is not the kind of endurance that says: “Woe is me… the trouble I see!” Endurance sees victory—not defeat. Let me explain:
When a man intentionally heads to the gym for the very first time he has two images of his body—the one in the mirror and the one in his head. All the equipment filling the room is resistance. He knows that he has to endure this resistance until the body in the mirror looks like the body in his head. He sees the weight machines as merely a part of the process.
But our culture is like the obese man, dragged to the gym, who sees nothing but a room full of misery he has to endure for who knows how long. And because he makes no connection between the resistance and his weight, he doesn't utilize the equipment properly and consequently experiences few or no results.
If we do not have any resistance to overcome, then we can never experience true joy.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NKJV)
We will have tribulation (pressure, affliction, distress) as long as we have breath. It's just a part of life. Thanks to Adam, there's resistance to everything we do that has any value (see Genesis 3:16–19). And Jesus tells us to have courage and be of good cheer as we deal with this resistance. When He tells us He has overcome the world, He is telling us, by implication, that we have the ability to overcome resistance—not just endure it. There is no joy in enduring resistance for resistance's sake; the only joy is in overcoming it.
We all instinctively know that good things come with resistance attached. Otherwise we wouldn't have sayings like: “No pain, no gain.”
And we all instinctively know that where there is no resistance, there is no progress. It's impossible, for example, to build muscle without pushing or pulling against resistance.
But we are not intentional about dealing with resistance. We just let it sneak up on us and beat the joy right out of us. And as long as we are not intentional about dealing with resistance we can never be intentional about being happy. Our happiness will be controlled by our circumstances. But it doesn't have to be this way.
If we want to enjoy this present moment and look forward to the next, we must take control of the resistance in our lives, and not let it beat the joy out of us. And the ability to control resistance comes from taking all the mystery out of it, by spreading it out in front of us and seeing how it works.
- Resistance should be avoided whenever possible.
- Resistance should be overcome when it can't be avoided.
- Resistance should never, ever be tolerated or endured.
First of all, we must avoid whatever resistance we can avoid:
- This ability comes from an awareness of the trouble we bring on ourselves, because of reacting and not deliberately thinking things through. As an example, when I was a teenager showing cattle at the fairgrounds, a friend of mine came by with his hand in a cast. He told me that he was having trouble getting a cow into the coral, so he slugged her with his fist. It just so happened that his fist landed on her hip bone. And if you don't know anything about cows, when he hit her hip bone at high speed he had about the same impact on the cow as a fly would have on you, after running into your hip bone. He would have had a much better time during the fair if his hand hadn't been broken. “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11 NIV).”
- This ability comes from an awareness of the trouble we bring on ourselves by the company we keep. As an example, our friends who are homeless find it much easier to maintain happiness when they stay in a safe, structured environment like our local Gospel Rescue Mission, than it is when they are couch surfing where the druggies hang out. “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble (Proverbs 13:20 NLT).”
- This ability also comes from an awareness of the trouble the devil bring on us because we are just being easy marks. The devil has a very non‐discriminate appetite; he will devour anything that's available. Walking through life requires paying attention to threats along the way. Treat the devil like a mad dog—keep your eye on him and don't let him bite you. (See 1 Peter 5:7–11.)
Just by paying attention and being aware of the resistance you can avoid will help you avoid a large part of it. It's when we're not paying attention that we get into trouble. If you will just pay attention, you can keep a lot of thieves away from your happiness.
More on this tomorrow….
Have a good day,