By Zoë Elmore
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29, NIV)
Being the only female in our household, (even our pets are male), I think I’ve seen just about every program the military channel offers, and believe it or not, I actually enjoy watching some of them. My husband and sons find it hilarious that “the princess of our home” is also a huge sports fan and a part-time student of the military. Hey, I say if you can’t change them (and you can’t), then join them!
Last week as I threw myself an elaborate pity party over the constant barrage of struggles this life brings, the Lord reminded me of one program in particular on the men who desire to become Navy SEALS. The physical and mental stresses these men are required to undergo was beyond my comprehension.
The first five weeks of the training prepares them for the sixth week, better known as "Hell Week." During this week, trainees participate in five and one half days of continuous training, with a maximum of four hours of sleep. "Sugar cookie drills," a combination of surf torture and whistle drills leave the trainees with sand over every inch of their bodies in preparation for the four-mile run up and down the beach (don’t tell those expensive day spas that charge a fortune for a full body polish that rolling in the sand and surf does the same thing).
One training exercise really caught my attention “Old Misery.” Exhausted, wet, and hungry teams of men hoist “Old Misery” (a 400 hundred pound log) onto their aching shoulders and then carry it up and down the beach. When one man would stumble or fall, his teammates immediately helped him up, carried his portion of “Old Misery” until he was steady on his feet, and encouraged him to finish the task. Each man knew the value of teamwork and how the load increased exponentially when one man stumbles. I was astonished at their ability to persevere as each task was more difficult than the last. I kept asking the question “Is all of this really necessary?” My husband and sons looked at me as if to say, “Hello, these men must remain focused on their mission no matter the cost!” Those who quit during Hell Week - and often, more than half do - are the ones Navy SEALs believe would quit on their real-world missions.
What a clear picture of God allowing struggles in my life as a way to keep my attention focused on my mission to be conformed to the likeness of His son. Pain and struggles can be tools to reveal areas of weakness in my life. God also uses them to shape and prune me. This “sanctification process” begins when we first ask Christ to enter our lives and ends when we meet Him face to face.
Another purpose for stressful circumstances is to reveal my true convictions as my faith and commitment are tested. It’s easy for me to say, “Praise God, isn’t He good,” when things are peaceful. But when struggles enter my life, what I really believe about God becomes evident in my thoughts, words, and actions.
Just as the trainees in the program had teammates to rely on, the Lord has provided me with my own teammates. The Holy Spirit is my team captain and is there to comfort, encourage, lead, guide, and direct me through the difficult and stressful times. I also have fellow teammates, men and women who have experienced stressful situations in their own lives and they have encouragement to share.
As you encounter your own “Old Misery” situations, remember you are not alone. The Lord has provided His Holy Spirit to help you carry the load and He will place people in your life that will help you and encourage you to finish the task of becoming more Christ-like. That way, you and I can live the command of Ephesians 4:1, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
Dear Lord, help me rely on Your Holy Spirit to comfort and direct me as I encounter “Old Misery” situations. Place godly teammates in my pathway and keep my focus on the goal of Christ-likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Good to Me by LaTonya Mason
Ask the Lord to send you a renewed sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life. Seek out godly teammates to come alongside you for encouragement and accountability. Finally, allow your experience with pain and struggles to support others who can be encouraged from your personal experience.
Have you allowed difficult situations to sidetrack your focus of demonstrating Christ-likeness?
How strong is your commitment to model Christ?
Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.” (NIV)
James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105