What is Strength? Sometimes life deals you blow after blow, knocking you down before you have a chance to even catch your breath from the last fall. The disappointments stack high, leaving you hurt, frustrated, and weary. These seasons of life can be wearisome. They can feel almost cruel as you deal with difficulty after difficulty. But, I believe, even when we feel like we are at our very end, they are cultivating something beautiful in us. It’s like with any workout. The first few weeks are painful as your muscles stretch. You come home with blisters on your hands and feet, wondering if it’s even worth it. But day after day, week after week, month after month, you begin to see results. Your muscles grow, callouses develop, you find that you are stronger. The metaphor falls apart pretty quickly, because going to the gym is a choice made with a positive end goal in mind. Meanwhile the storms of life that you face often are not chosen. But their effect is much the same, because it is these very difficulties that are doing something in you. The peaks and the consecutive valleys of life, the inevitable cycle of joys and sorrows that you face, they are building callouses, strengthening muscles—they are shaping who you are. The ebbs and flows of life might feel like they are squeezing the very life out of you, but after weeks, months, or even years of this training, you are stronger and more able to withstand. The growth that happens through difficulty isn’t seen quickly, but over the span of months, and even years, you are able to look back and see the character that has been cultivated through endurance. I don’t know what the difficult thing is that you are walking through. For me over the last few years it has been the depression my spouse and I have faced, the loneliness that comes with constantly uprooting our lives, and a years-long stretch of infertility. Maybe for you it is chronic health issues, the loss of family members, frustrations in your work, or crippling anxiety. The difficulty that you’re walking through is hard to carry; it is heavy and the grief it elicits is real. But maybe at the end of the day it’s not necessarily about everything being resolved. Maybe it’s not about everything working out according to plan. Maybe instead it’s about what happens in the process of stretching, failing, wrestling, growing, and enduring through the difficult thing. Maybe that’s actually where your strength is found. So knowing this, knowing the beauty that comes even through pain, we can press into each difficulty that comes. We can persevere knowing that on the other side of the trial comes growth. We can endure the hardship knowing that it is precisely this difficult thing that is cultivating something beautiful in us. We can know that in the face of all things, we are resilient. We have the strength to endure.