A well-toned, muscular body is an accomplishment. We want bodies that are powerful, but they don’t miraculously appear. Many of us dread the workouts to get the strong body, don’t we? Lifting weights on our arms, legs and abs produces tension.
It’s fascinating the way that the muscle building process includes:
- Tearing down
Our heart is a super-sophisticated muscle that consists of tissue pumping blood through our bodies. How do we grow a strong, resilient heart? We can walk, run, cycle and do all types of strengthening exercises.
What about the building of our spiritual hearts?
As I experience the Covid-19 crisis, I can’t help but think about the only other time in my life when I experienced an even greater level of anxiety, uncertainty and some isolation.
Seven years ago this month, my daughter Leah was in the early stages of a horrific battle with cancer.
This month seven years ago, she just had her second emergency surgery.
My heart muscle pulled . . .
By summer, she went through vigorous chemo treatments.
My heart muscle twisted . . .
Mid-summer, she had targeted radiation.
My heart muscle stretched . . .
In the fall, the cancer almost disappeared.
My heart muscle rested . . .
Then a few months later, after 14 months in total, the cancer overwhelmed Leah’s body and she died.
My heart muscle completely ripped . . .
The ache and pain were indescribable.
This tragic loss impacted me profoundly. My heart formed a new shape – the crisis sculpted my heart muscle.
The Covid-19 crisis places incredible weight on each of our hearts. It’s pulling and tearing our hearts just as lifting heavy free weights puts pressure on our arms.
When we plan our physical workouts, we select the amount of pounds that we will lift – or maybe our coach does.
In a crisis situation, we don’t choose the weight placed on our shoulders. It’s placed there unexpectedly. We haven’t worked up to the physical ability to handle it. How do we withstand it?
Throughout history, people have been tested, and refined, by the tension of sudden crises. I think of my father living through the Great Depression and serving the US Army Air Force in World War II. If he were alive today, I can hear him say about Covid-19, “Ah, we got this.” Perseverance and unrelenting commitment are two reasons his generation is called America’s Greatest Generation.
Our human wills are designed to conquer challenges and thrive. Many of us have been through deep emergencies – either personal or community-wide. We bring our life experience to this situation. For others, this Covid-19 outbreak may be one of your first, large-scale challenges.
Please remember: God created our bodies to be pliable; He gave us resilient spirits.
To date, my worst trial gave me:
- Hope: my faith rested in God’s ultimate goodness and love
- Community: friends and family held me up, prayed and provided resources for my family
- Purpose: when I thought I couldn’t go on, my prayer was that my daughter saw Jesus in me
Remembering Leah’s illness, I can’t believe that I survived it. I’m not the same person; I’m different. Hopefully, better and tougher.
My hope for all of us is that when our “crisis muscle fibers” break, they:
- Fuse together
- Grow to be vigorous and unyielding
Let’s use this time of collective suffering to grow in compassion, patience, kindness, endurance, understanding, faith and love.
Please share in the comments the ways that your/our current situation is either 1)stretching and strengthening you, or 2) how your past learning (trial) is helping you through this experience.
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Photo courtesy of Pixaby
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”