Hate is a really strong word, even though we don't always use it properly. For instance, when someone says, "I hate peas!", what they really mean is, "Peas are the lowest item on my vegetables-I-like list." But the word hate generally means an extreme dislike to the point of wishing death upon the object being hated. For instance, I hate push-ups! They are, in my opinion, a divine punishment for some terrible transgression mankind has perpetrated in eons past. Push-ups, especially in an "Army Physical Fitness Test" sense, are 2 minutes of upper body death that serve only to emphasize how much better the other guy is than me. I guess the real problem is that when I do push-ups everyone else appears to have arms that are 6 inches long and as big around as my waist. On the other hand, it seems that I, with my 5 foot pencil arms, must push myself to a near vertical position to complete one repetition. The difference is that they work out more than I do! They are fit because they spend untold, lonely hours in the gym pumping iron and doing push-ups.
Several years ago, a good friend of mine and his wife discovered that she was pregnant. They were excited and we were excited for them. But something happened and the baby was stillborn. They were devastated. Seemingly ad infinitum the questions of "how?", and, "why?" poured out as they grappled with their situation. But through the entire ordeal they stood together and remain so to this day. They stood strong in the face of a test that would crush others. How? Because they were fit...spiritually fit. They had, prior to the test, spent untold, lonely hours in God's gym pumping spiritual iron...praying, reading scripture, meditating, attending their church, and spending time with like-minded people.
Spiritual fitness, like physical fitness, is never simple. It takes time, effort, consistency, and is often inconvenient. Nevertheless, we must work out physically and spiritually so that when the day of the test comes we are prepared to pass it. The Apostle Paul said, "All good athletes train hard for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm not going to get caught napping and missing out." (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, The Message)
Are you ready for the test?