On the Side: November 2018
by Sharon Chatwell
For exercise, I walk in the pool. Strength training, they call it, for people with bad knees. That’s me. There’s a knee replacement somewhere in my future. But, in an effort to stave that off for a while, and to build up muscle strength, I find myself in the pool about five times a week.
Water is wonderful, glorious stuff. Being from the Gulf Coast originally, I now chafe a bit at my adopted (but sadly landlocked) Nebraska. The only water I can get in here year-round is chlorinated; but I am happy to do that. And every time I find myself up to my elbows in it, trudging from one side of the pool to the other, I try and thank God for creating this beautiful, amazing wet stuff. It simultaneously buoys me up and resists my movements. It also provides many opportunities for me to improve and challenge myself. It is just what I need.
God says that “The righteous shall live by faith” Galatians 3:11 (ESV).
That’s all well and good, but all this walking in faith stuff can be pretty difficult. It’s a bit like trying to walk in the pool. Even if you’re moving forward, your progress may be slow.
I believe that God often tests my faith to make it stronger and more resilient, like the water tests my muscles. Take my adventure this summer, for instance.
God gave me something to do; something that required all of my abilities and most of my time. There I was, right in the middle of this little “walk of faith,” when disaster struck; not once, but multiple times. Each time, however, God provided just the right answer (or just the right person) to make things work out!
It was as if God was taking my faith and stretching it a little; putting up a little more resistance, causing me to ask Him to strengthen my faith; making me wait longer than usual for answers to my prayers, requiring me to be more patient than ever while waiting on Him.
At times I thought I would falter before God came through. But now, looking back, I can see that God was there all the time; helping me, giving me wisdom and insight, strengthening me and providing all of the people and resources I needed to get the job done!
No matter what task God sets before us, whether it is dealing with all the amazing stuff that comes with being married to a physician, or being a wife and mom, or having a career while doing all of the above, God is always there, helping us do the things He has given us to do.
Whether we are wading knee-deep in laundry, or life-guarding little ones, or even swimming in treacherous waters with teenagers, God is always there providing everything we need to accomplish the task. We are victorious in Jesus!
As the Bible tells us, “…whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5 (NASB)
This faith, which God says we are to live by and which overcomes the world through Christ, isn’t something small. It may start small, but like a muscle it has to be exercised to grow larger. Strength training is necessary!
From time to time, God may allow things to be harder for us than usual, or He may cause us to wait a bit longer than we have in the past for an answer to our prayers. I believe that He does this in order to stretch us and to strengthen our faith.
And these experiences may not always be pleasant.
One time the Disciples were with Jesus in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when a storm came up that was so bad they were afraid they would drown. Desperate, they woke Jesus, who was asleep in the boat, and asked Him to save them from perishing. Jesus answered them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Matthew 8:26 (ESV) and then He calmed the wind and the waves with a word.
This experience wasn’t necessarily a pleasant one for the Disciples, but they were amazed at what Jesus had done, and they wondered what kind of man He could be. The strengthening of our faith isn’t a blind exercise. It is done so that we will know and recognize the Lord God more fully and have a closer relationship with Him.
Like the water in the pool, God’s love surrounds us as we struggle to move forward in faith. It simultaneously buoys us up and provides opportunities for our faith to grow and become stronger. It is just what we need.
May God continually bless you and give you strength training opportunities for your faith in Him.
Sharon is a writer and a physician-spouse living in beautiful, landlocked Lincoln, Nebraska. (Honestly, it’s not for everyone.) She invites each of you to wade into the water of God’s love and struggle with the daily challenges of living in Faith in Jesus Christ.