I must hold a lot of tension in my upper body, because after just a few minutes of working in the kitchen, I develop muscle knots between my shoulder blades. After several months of trying different things to relieve the pain of these muscle knots, I discovered the tennis ball. I can actually sit in my favorite reclining chair with the tennis ball positioned in the “sore zone” and give myself an amazing massage.
Now I won’t lie to you and say that it feels good. In fact, sometimes it hurts so much that tears come to my eyes; but if I persevere, I can feel those muscle knots between my shoulders easing. Call me a glutton for punishment if you wish, but I can honestly tell you that the relief I feel is well worth the moments of pain.
Naturally there are a couple of other simple solution. I could ignore the pain, for one. The only problem is, the pain would only worsen to the point where I could no longer work in the kitchen. Another potential solution would be to simply not work in the kitchen so that the muscle knots between my shoulders would never develop. Both of these options, however, would prevent me from being able to provide food for my family…hum….Perhaps the painful tennis ball treatment is for the best after all…
As I winced this morning from the pain of the tennis ball rolling from one muscle knot to another, it occurred to me that I also have a few “muscle knots” in my character: “impatience”, “pride”, “selfishness”, “self-reliance” and “lack of faith”, to name just a few.
Since I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with spiritual “muscle knots”, I have good news for us all. Just like the tennis ball works the muscle knots out of my upper back, God also has ways of working out our spiritual “muscle knots”. For this, He often uses trials. Consider the following, so-often-quoted texts:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:3,4 NLT)
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2 NLT)
Unfortunately, these solutions are often painful. What hurts more, for example, than being snubbed in a relationship? What produces more fear than a bad medical diagnosis? What results in loneliness more than death?
So often we wish these troubles would just go away. However, if I never used that tennis ball, the muscle knots between my shoulders would only get worse, and the pain would eventually stop me from being able to feed my family. In the same way, ignoring our spiritual “muscle knots” would eventually render us useless to God’s Work. This is why we are advised: “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2 NLT). We are also told that we: “…can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials…” (Romans 5:3 NLT) so that we will be: “…perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:4 NLT)
When we are patient through our trials, relying on God to carry us through, we are allowing our painful trials to works out our spiritual “muscle knots”. We are allowing God to use them to render us: “perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:4 NLT)
But wait! Please tell me there is an easier way. Who wants to go through such pain just to work out the “knots” in our characters?
Let’s look at the next verses of Romans 5: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:4 NLT). Don’t we need patience? Strength of character? A strong hope of salvation? We learn these things through our trials! But the best news is, we don’t go through these “spiritual massages” without hope: “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:4 NLT). We have hope, for God has poured out His love in our hearts through His Spirit, Who we have already received.
Got some spiritual “muscle knots”? Don’t wish away the trials that might help to massage them out. Instead, rely on God and His love that has already filled your heart to get you through. This will ensure that in the end, you will be, “perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:4 NLT)
Anyone need a tennis ball?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart