Working out sucks.

Eating healthy is no fun.

Keeping a good sleep schedule is just too difficult.

Getting to church every Sunday is just not gonna happen.

I’m sore. I’m tired. I just want to eat cookies and watch Netflix in bed.

Sound familiar? Like I’ve said, humans – like water and electricity – will always take the path of least resistance. Couple that with our inability to delay gratification at all (exercise will help me feel good later, but that donut will make me feel good now), and it’s no wonder the average American is more sedentary and overweight than ever.

We all have an inner 4-year-old demanding the comforts of junk food and our favorite shows. But if you’re reading this, you’re not four years old anymore. And if you ARE reading this as a 4-year-old, that’s impressive! Keep it up! And let your mommy use the bathroom by herself, please.

Part of growing up is learning to do things we don’t want to do. Some things we have to do – like taxes or taking out the trash. But most of life is made up of choices. I’m still a believer in free will.

You are in control of your own schedule and calendar.
You are in control of what food you put in your mouth.
You are in control of how much time you spend on your devices.

All choices have consequences impacting your future self. Some choices are easy now but will make your life harder in the future. Others are harder now but will make your life easier in the future.

So embrace the suck.

“Life is pain, highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Westley, The Princess Bride

Another way of saying it is “voluntary hardship.” Life is hard, but we can choose our hard to some degree.

Lifting weights is hard. Not having the strength to lift your child or open a jar is also hard.

Eating healthy is hard. Type II Diabetes or heart disease is also hard.

Getting your cardio in is hard (my run this morning sucked!). Being out of breath walking uphill is also hard.

Putting the teachings of Jesus into practice is hard. Living life only for yourself is also hard.

I like the above quote from The Princess Bride because it reminds us of a forgotten truth. Life is hard. Companies spend billions of dollars every year convincing us it doesn’t have to be. Between online shopping, DoorDash, and streaming services, you never have to leave your house if you don’t want to. Even worship has been shifted online over the last couple years.

But growth can’t happen without some struggle. Your muscles won’t grow without resistance. Your heart won’t get healthier unless it’s placed under controlled stress. Your faith won’t get stronger unless you spend time “wrestling with God” (that’s literally what the name “Israel” means).

One last example.

Several years ago, researchers built a bio-dome in Arizona. It was a completely controlled biosphere full of plant life of all kinds. But researchers found the trees inside would begin to fall and die once they reached a certain height. They weren’t diseased or rotted in any way.

They discovered the trees’ root systems weren’t growing as deep or as strong as those in the wild. But why? Answer: there were no strong winds inside the dome. The trees grew up without having to struggle and strengthen against the harsh winds which regularly occur in nature. The trees were too sheltered, too protected, too comfortable if you will.

When I get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the day after a workout, it definitely hurts for a bit. I call it a “good sore,” which my wife finds utterly ridiculous. But it’s good because I know my muscles are growing stronger. Remember: the strength lasts much longer than the pain.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18 | CSB