While working out on the treadmill or the elliptical can bring benefits to one's body, an invisible workout can lead to increasing the muscles in a person's soul, according to Dr. Isaac Butterworth. "No pain, no gain. Isn't that what they tell you at the gym? Isn't that what they say when they insist on one more rep, one more step, one more stretch, one more pull, one more push, one more lap? And of course it's true," Butterworth said in Wichita Falls, Tex. yesterday (Sunday) at First Presbyterian Church.
He further said, "Painful as it is to admit, if we don't tax our muscles, we won't get stronger, and if our lungs don't burn, we won't increase our endurance. There is gain in the pain but none without it."
Butterworth completed his analogy by saying, "That's the way it is with the body, and that's the way it is with the soul."
Of course the soul is invisible to human eyes and therefore has been subject to debate and discussion ever since man began recording history. How big is the soul? Where is it located exactly? Does it affect people's actions? Do people's actions affect it? How is it interrealated with the brain?
There have been numerous books and stories down through the centuries written about people selling their souls to the Devil. And in the modern era movies have been made about the subject. That is a topic of discussion for another time, however.
Butterworth discussed the subject of pain and its relationship with the soul yesterday, saying,"Everyone has heard the slogan, "Suffering produces character'."' He explained that saying is not exactly accurate.
According to a letter the Apostle Paul wrote, "Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character....". Butterworth went on to say, "And that's an important detail."
The senior pastor of First Presbyterian in Wichita Falls clarified the sentence in Paul's letter, saying, "It's through patient and trusting endurance that our pain leads to spiritual gain."
Everyone on the face of the earth faces disappointments, adversity and pain at some time during their existence. It doesn't require a Gallup poll to establish that. Butterworth said that when people endure pain and suffering in their lives that "it can lead somewhere good. Even though the path may be rough, it goes somewhere. There's a point to it."
Does suffering separate a person from God? Butterworth answered that often asked question, saying, "The first thing to notice is that suffering is not a sign of God's displeasure, and it doesn't mean that God has abandoned us. Or to put it another way, suffering does not separate us from God. He quoted a Biblical basis for his statement, referring to a letter Paul wrote in ancient times to a church which was suffering a great deal of pain.
Paul addressed his letter "to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Butterworth said people should not miss that little preposition in because that is critical in describing a person's relationship with God during times of suffering. He said that "we are in God and in Christ during seasons of adversity, and the fact that we are encountering pain and suffering in our lives does not mean we have been abandoned by God. The Thessalonians were already suffering, but they were not to look upon their suffering as evidence that God had turned his back on them. Quite the contrary.
Like a lawyer arguing his case, Butterworth contended that the greeting in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians is evidence God was still with the afflicted people to whom the letter was addressed. It reads as follows: "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The significance of this salutation is that the readers of this letter should realize their struggles are no indication that God's grace has been withheld from them or that his peace has been denied them. Even though they have experienced harsh reversals in life, they are still in possession of God's gifts: his grace and his peace. They are still his people.
Butterworth admitted that when he suffers some sort of setback in his own life his first thought is, "God, where are you?" as though He has left "me to deal with things on my own without his help." He went on to say that while suffering is to be expected in this life, that it will not separate us from the love of Christ.
The pastor pointed to the letter published in Romans 8:35, 37, 39 which says, "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus."
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