Not too long ago, I was listening to Chris Fabry Live. He had a couple on who had gone through some very hard circumstances. As he was talking, giving the introduction, Mr. Fabry likened suffering to football. Often we feel like it's one thing upon another. Much like a football player who is carrying the ball, and then is tackled...he usually isn't tackled by just one player, but once he is down, player upon player jumps on top of him. This analogy got me to thinking about the BFS program, that our local school uses for their athletes. The 'BFS' stands for Bigger, Faster, Stronger. It's a strengthening program that utilizes weight-lifting, plyometrics (jumping), strength and agility training. The motto for BFS is "Be an 11". They encourage the kids to give their utmost. Don't be satisfied with being a 10, be an 11. Give it your all.
The first year our school implemented the BFS program, we saw a huge improvement in our second oldest's football game. He was the main running back for our team, so he ended up with the ball a lot. During one play of a home game, he had several guys try to tackle him, but he just kept running. I think he ended up with about 5 guys hanging on, and Levi just drug them down the field, on his way to a touchdown.
So, how does this relate to suffering? Well, if suffering is the guy trying to tackle you and take you down, then if you have been involved in a 'strengthening' program for your faith, it will be more difficult. We often want easy answers. Just give me a list to follow. Tell me the secret. Hand me the key to live victoriously. But you know what? There isn't an easy answer to faith. It's a gift from God, most assuredly, but it's also work. You have to exercise it. You have to spend time in God's word, getting to know it and Him better. You have to put forth the effort.
Levi didn't get strong enough to drag those guys down the field by wishing he were stronger. He had to get to the gym everyday and do the workout. It took determination and commitment on his part. He had to follow the program. Our faith isn't strengthened by us wishing we had stronger faith. We have to have the commitment to be in the Word and know God more intimately for our faith to be strengthened. When we enter into suffering ~ and we all will ~ we have to determine to keep our eyes uplifted and *trust* God to do what is in our best interests. But, that will be easier if we have put in our time in the 'gym' of Scripture.
Breaking those tackles wasn't easy. Levi still felt the full weight of those guys hanging onto him as he ran down the field, but, because he was strong, he was able to keep going. The play didn't end with one guy jumping on him. He wasn't sidelined by an injury. He. Kept. Going. He moved forward, keeping his eye on the prize. For him, that prize was yards gained, and ultimately a touchdown. For us, we run toward a much greater prize. We run toward Christ-likeness. We run toward glorifying God. We run toward a glorious eternity.
I don't believe we should look for suffering, but I do believe that we should see the value in it. The opportunity to 'flex' our faith muscle, and grow in grace. Suffering is going to come, will you 'be an 11"?