In my time as a strength and conditioning coach, the most fascinating thing I’ve seen is how athletes respond to a new training stimulus. The new stimulus could be a sharp increase in weight or the introduction of a new piece of equipment that challenges their balance or flexibility. Though frustrating initially, as the athlete’s body adapts, the new stressor will produce significant muscular and neurological advancements. Bottom line: the introduction of a new training method to an athlete usually results in a big boost in performance on the court, field, or track.
The COVID-19 quarantine has introduced many new stressors to us such as the absence of sports, social contact, and church gatherings – not to mention a big dose of uncertainty. All this is foreign to us, even depressing; we’re frustrated and struggling to adapt. Consider that God, like an elite strength coach, is allowing these new challenges not to discourage us, but to give us opportunities for tremendous growth and gains.
In James 1:2-4, we’re told, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” It sounds ridiculous to view troubles as a pathway for joy, but that’s essentially what I tell my athletes. I ask them to endure awkward, challenging exercises so they can breakthrough barriers and experience greater levels of joy in their sport.
In all honesty, not every athlete embraces new methods; some are comfortable only with what they’ve always done. These individuals aren’t considering new challenges as “an opportunity for great joy,” – and they’re missing out. Likewise, during this strange season of quarantine, if we fail to consider that our hardships can actually lead to great joy, we’re probably going to miss some great gains God has for us.
With 18 years of experience in fitness and a Master’s in Exercise Science, I need my athletes to trust that my methods will deliver the best possible results. Since God is infinitely wiser than us, how much more do we need to trust that He’s delivering a specific result through the coronavirus? Many ask, “What could God possibly hope to accomplish through a pandemic?” No matter how unusual His methods appear, like using social distancing and quarantining, since the very beginning, when God created the world, Acts 17:27 tells us His goals has always been that we’d seek Him and find Him. Somehow, someway, the COVID-19 quarantine is designed to bring us closer to God – so embrace His pursuit of you, open your Bible, and start benefiting from His training.