“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds” (Hosea 6.1 NIV).
When I go to the gym to lift weights, I am actually going to break down muscle by tearing the individual fibers. I know that unless I’m lifting heavy, I will not enter into muscle hypertrophy (increasing muscle mass). Once I tear down my muscles by lifting loads that are almost too heavy for me to carry, I have to allow those muscles to rest. As they rest, my muscles repair themselves even bigger and stronger than before.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11.28 NIV).
When I go back to the gym to work the same muscle group, the weight that was once almost too heavy now becomes bearable. And after it becomes bearable, it will become easy. When the weight becomes too easy, I will have to add more pounds to make the weight almost too heavy again. It is amazing how quickly the body can adapt to the pressure placed on it. God’s ingenious design of our bodies allows us to gain as much muscle mass that we are willing to tear down.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4.13 NIV).
When I tell people that God will tear them down, many of them don’t understand. They think if God is a good God, why would He willingly break us? If God loves us, why would He want us to suffer? These are questions that are limited to a temporal understanding; they don’t take into consideration an eternal point-of-view. God has us on the earth for a reason, and it’s definitely not to coast through blissfully until we see Jesus face-to-face in Heaven.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4.18 NIV).
God is more concerned about the people we will be for eternity, and He is using this world to tear us down, so He can build us back up stronger in Him. He wants us to do amazing feats for His glory, but if we are too weak, we will buckle under the pressure. Each of God’s blessings come with a burden. And God will withhold that blessing until we are strong enough to stand under the weight that comes with it.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1.2-4 NLT).
God desires that we become so “fully developed” that we will be “perfect and completed, needing nothing.” Our spiritual strength is built when God breaks down our preconceived notions of our own strength, forcing us to rely solely on His. When God is our complete strength, we will indeed be “needing nothing.” Since God is the Creator and Owner of everything, our total reliance on Him will create a portal, giving us everything we need when we need it.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.19 NIV).
When I leave the gym knowing that I have broken my muscle down, I’m am very pleased. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, and I’m on my way to gaining the most strength and muscle mass for my bodybuilding competition. If I were to run away from the pain and suffering, I would never be strong enough to compete. I know that when I enter into the gym, I will experience brokenness, but the breaking is what causes healing, which leads to gained strength.
“For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal” (Job 5.18 NIV).
The same is true for life. Life is like a gym–we engage knowing that we will experience pain and suffering, but that does not mean we should continually run away from hardships. Pain is part of the process to growth, and God is near us when we are broken. He is repairing us into the image of Christ, so we can become our best selves and accomplish the purposes that God has planned for us.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34.18 NLT).