“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NASB).
For the CrossFitters reading (and for those who have friends who CrossFit and annoy you with their cult-like enthusiasm for it), you know it’s no walk in the park. It’s no leisurely jog around your block to the catchy tunes of “Foster the People” or Nicki Minaj. It’s no air-conditioned, peppy-paced tour through a state of the art globo gym, gleaming with fancy machinery. It’s tough. You sweat. You may even bruise. You push yourself and those around you to keep going, to bound over obstacles and leap over limits, even when it’s painful.
Amid the sweat dripping into your eyes, the calluses forming on your palms, and the burning in your muscles, CrossFit does have one major perk: each session is short — generally speaking, of course! Workouts last, on average, between five and twenty minutes. When I first began, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could reap such incredible results in so little time. For hours after the WOD (“workout of the day”), I’d enjoy a major endorphin rush – a renewed joie de vivre — and my energy levels were sent soaring. No workout ever made me feel so darn good! In just a few weeks, I was already beginning to notice significant improvements in my strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance. I was becoming fitter each day.
All of Paul the Apostle’s Christian life was like a gigantic WOD, if you will, of the severest nature. Hated for preaching the Gospel, Paul was repeatedly captured and beaten with rods, imprisoned, stoned and left for dead, he was even shipwrecked three times (2 Cor. 11:25). It’s fair to say he endured a substantial bit of discomfort! But to him, all of this suffering was merely a “light affliction.”
While CrossFit – or any rigorous workout – doesn’t leave you broken and bleeding on the gym floor (just panting heavily and creating sweat angels upon it at times!) it does qualify as a “light affliction,” at least in my opinion. But the weight of the barbell, the height of the box, the distance of the run…all of it produces a “glory” that goes beyond working out to look good in a two-piece swimsuit or burning off Thanksgiving turkey. We bear the physical burdens of dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and our own bodyweight because doing so makes us stronger and fitter to do the work of the Lord.
It’s amazing how much more we can look forward to workouts, however daunting, when our motivation stems from a root of Christ-adoring stewardship and gratitude. Today, let’s give thanks for these bodies and their ability to grow stronger, faster, and healthier with each passing workout (operative word: “passing”!.) Let’s remember that they are dwelling places of the Holy Spirit and that disciplining ourselves to work out to achieve new goals – new glories – ultimately glorifies the One within us.