As I perused the group fitness schedule, I noticed a class called Intense Fit. My body said NO WAY but my brain pointed out that the handout specifically said the class was for “all levels” so it couldn’t be that bad.
My body is still ticked that my brain won that argument.
I knew trouble was brewing when the instructor sent us to run three laps as a warm up.
Three laps? As a warm up?
I got through the laps and found myself leaning against a wall with two people who looked like they’d been out for a leisurely stroll. (I was trying not to humiliate myself by gasping for air).
One says in a perky voice, “My butt was sore after last week’s class.” To which the other says, “Really? That’s great!”
Folks, they were dead serious.
I survived the first half of the class, albeit with a new and profound hatred of burpees, and as we transitioned to the upper body portion, the instructor congratulated me on hanging in there. She said I was doing great. (She was being kind, but I’m pretty sure she was wondering how long it would take the EMTs to arrive when I passed out).
As we neared the end of the class, the instructor commented that we were finishing a few minutes early. Some helpful person near the front said something, and next thing I know, we’re jumping around doing some sort of air jacks.
Well, some people were jumping.
I was doing an approximation of a hop.
And rebuking myself for the un-Christian thoughts I was having toward that lunatic who couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
I managed to stay upright as I left, although I did lean on the handrails as I eased down the stairs. Before I got to my car, the ache set in. By the next morning, I hurt in places I didn’t know I had.
The thing is, I know this is good for me. I’m packing an extra 50—and I don’t mean IQ points. Something’s gotta give—preferably my waistline.
While I can’t say (yet) that I’m enjoying the process, some of those people were. They were laughing. And smiling. They did everything the instructor asked—and sometimes did things to make it harder than it had to be.
Keep in mind, they don’t enjoy the pain . . . But they are joyful in the midst of it.
Because they believe the effort will produce results—the kind of results they are willing to suffer for a while in order to achieve.
It’s given me a new appreciation for what James is talking about when he says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Some translations say “endurance” or “patience” instead of “steadfastness” but I kind of like “steadfastness.” As I wobbled out of the class, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to finish an hour of Intense Fit and stand strong, ready for another round.
When James says we should “count it all joy” it doesn’t mean “enjoy the agony”. It means that joy, in the middle of suffering, is possible. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I think I see how it could happen.
You have to believe—to your very core—that what you are going through will produce a result and that the result will be worthwhile.
What’s the result?
James 1:4 ~ And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)
That sounds nice.
This is even better.
James 1:12 ~ Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (ESV)
You may be neck deep in a real life version of Intense Fit. You may have thought it was almost over, just to have someone crank up the heat. You may be staggering around in the aftermath of a brutal struggle.
If you listen, I believe you’ll hear God whispering, “You’re doing great, sweetheart. Hang in there. It’s worth it.”
I Peter 1:6-7 ~ In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
I’d love to hear from you. Have you been there? Have you watched someone else live a life characterized by joy despite intense difficulties? Take a moment and encourage all of us in the comments!
Are you taking the Joy Dare with me? A thankful heart is a joyful heart!
3 Gifts Eaten: Birthday cake, breakfast casserole, a perfectly crisp apple
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