Pain and punishment are often linked together, and this concept has been ingrained in our minds forever. It reminds us of a child being chastised for doing something wrong. Well, God doesn't work that way. He doesn't use pain to punish us, he uses it to prepare us. There's a significant meaning to the famous saying "No Pain, No Gain". You can't experience gain without pain. How can you become stronger if your strength is never tested? I read an article that stated lifting heavy weight can improve strength. This reminds me of what God does with us. Sometimes he'll place us in a situation where we are required to lift or carry heavy weight. This may be painful, but it's necessary to enhance our strength. We must focus on what we'll become after enduring a difficult situation instead of the pain we experience during it. One definition of the word preparation is something done to get ready for an event. God wants to elevate us to the next level, but this isn't possible if we are not prepared. If we need to run a marathon to reach the next level, we must have the necessary strength and endurance to do so. Think about what a marathon runner does to prepare for this type of race. A marathon participant runs consistently to build up their endurance. Although it's painful and causes fatigue, it's necessary to complete the race. You have to be ready to endure the pain that comes from running the race for Jesus Christ, and your preparation is everything.
When I prepared for my final collegiate basketball season, I constantly reminded myself why I had to endure the pain from every workout. I wanted to end my career as a champion. We must do the same when we're running the race for Christ. You're enduring for the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for you. If that isn't enough motivation to endure, then think about the support you'll have from God. Philippians 4:19 (MSG) states "You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus." God will be cheering you on, and supplying every need you have until the race is over. Just think when you finish the marathon, you'll be a Champion For Christ! How awesome would that be?