Sometimes the roller coaster of life can really leave your head spinning. A doctor looks you in the eye and says you have cancer. A phone call in the middle of the night informs you that a loved one has departed. The boss hands you a pink slip. The car breaks down. A child begins to make some horrible choices and won’t listen to your counsel. The list could go on and on.

Why do those things happen? In fact, with our belief that God is sovereign and reigns supreme over the events around us (Ephesians 1:11), how are we to think about these tough times? I was recently reflecting on that question. Let me share my thoughts.

Exactly 21 days ago, I set out on a mission. I had told a young “Timothy” who I am mentoring that he should pick out some task that he didn’t want to do but that would benefit him in the long run and just do it. I realized that I needed to take my own medicine and so I “googled” a plan for beginning runners.

I HATE running. Not much about it is appealing to me … but I LOVE the results: more energy, better attitude, less stress, higher metabolism, providing the Lord with a healthier “temple”, running with my boys, and on and on.

So, I followed the online instructions and ran the first day. It called me to run 1 minute/walk 1 minute and do it ten times. I almost killed myself doing it. I was gasping for air and felt horrible after the run.

The next day, I got Day 2’s instructions in an e-mail. I had to do the same thing as Day 1. My legs were still killing me and my lungs were protesting. But I ran anyway. I pushed myself to do exactly what the running plan called me to do.

Well, long story short, I just finished today’s run. It’s Day 21 and I ran for 5 minutes/walked for 1 minute and did it 5 times. I was tired but not nearly as bad as that first day!

If you were to ask me if I enjoyed the training, I would quickly (and I mean quickly) say “No!” It was hard work for a guy that was out of shape and overweight.

But if you were to ask me if I’m glad I did it, I would quickly (and I mean quickly) say “Yes!” Why? Because I’m enjoying the results. You see, I fought through the tough times because I knew they were preparing me for the good times.

How does that flesh out in our spiritual walk? Simply, that God brings difficulties into our lives for various reasons but often, it’s because He’s developing us. He’s toughening us up. He’s getting rid of the spiritual flabbiness and laziness and making us usable to Him. Being used by Him is what we were made for!

We only get one shot at life. The rest of eternity will give us time to reflect on what we did with these few, short years on earth. Often, God sends us to the “gym” to work out so that we can much more clearly reflect His glory in our attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. He is equipping us for service to Him.

Don’t resist God’s work. Is it fun when you are in the “gym” and difficulties come? No! But does God promise to work it out for your good (Romans 8:28)? You betcha!

Don’t get upset when trials come into your life. Realize that God is using them to make you more usuable to Him. Who knows what may be around the corner. God is training you for something!