The Olympics came to a close yesterday. Both in preparation and during the competition, there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and yes, pain. Pain is unavoidable for those committed to training for most sports. To increase endurance, an athlete has to push past the breaking point. Blisters form, pop and tear on a gymnast’s hands. Every mountain biker tumbles through the rock garden once or twice. The hurdler sprawls face first, injuring pride and ankle.
These are expected pains. Growing pains. They gain glory through survival and triumph over the pain.
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
No pain no gain – athletic mantras
I want to twist this truth just a little bit. I want to look at the permission of pain.
I am not saying that an Olympian or any athlete looks forward to the tearing, telling pain of a pulled muscle or broken bone or any other debilitating injury. No one does. But sometimes it brings relief. What if one of the reasons God gave us pain was so that our overly-zealous, compulsive minds would receive the permission to rest.
I have been studying rest with a wonderful website: www.shelovesmagazine.com . That’s their theme for August and it has proved to be a nagging growing pain in my own heart. You see, I hate to rest. I was raised and programed to perform and produce. Product is posterity. When God informed me through His word that He rested and he designed me, a mortal, to require and to take rest, I nodded, “What a good idea, God. When I’m done here.”
What if God is allowing us to be taught something. What if He is waiting for us to trip over a hurdle or slip from the bars because of our stubborn blisters. What if He is standing right there to pick us up, walk to the sidelines and say, “Rest. Just sit down with me. I will hold you, comfort you, encourage you. When you do go back to the race, you will run stronger, jump higher, flip faster than ever before.”
It’s actually true in athletics too. Following a day or a week of rest, or an entire off season, an athlete often comes back stronger. They have been refreshed.
Sometimes it takes pain for us to hear the already God-given permission to rest.