University of Washington rowing teamI love reading true, historical accounts of men and women who have overcome great obstacles. So, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, the story of the University of Washington rowing team that won the gold medal in the 1936 Olympics.

I especially appreciated the following metaphor spoken by George Yeoman Pocock, “It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.”

We don’t typically think this way, but if you stop to consider your job, the purpose of nearly any job is to solve problems. Without the problems, we wouldn’t have a job. In fact, the longer we’re in a position and the greater the variety of problems we’ve solved, the more skilled we become and the more valuable we are to our employer.

It may be more difficult to think this way about our relationships, but I believe it’s also true. Within my marriage, my wife and I have faced a wide variety of problems throughout our marriage. While enduring the problems, many of them were anything but pleasant. But those problems strengthened our marriage, bringing us closer together.

In Romans 5:3–4, Paul wrote, “We… glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Think about that for a moment. We don’t want to be quitters; we want perseverance in our lives. And we desire strong, godly character. We want to be positive men full of hope.

Yet all those positive outcomes result from suffering (or problems). Without suffering, we wouldn’t experience perseverance, we wouldn’t develop strong character, or be filled with hope.

But what’s our first response when we experience suffering or hardship? Usually, we seek to remove it from our lives as quickly as possible. Think of this in terms of trying to row that boat on dry land. Sure, you’ve got the boat out of the water that was causing so much resistance, but trying to row on dry land is even worse — impossible even.

Therefore Paul urges us to “glory in” or “rejoice in” our sufferings. “The very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.”

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:18–22

Personal Application

What struggles or problems are you facing right now? In what way can you view those problems as your “friends”? Trust God and persevere!

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5