Growing up, I was picked on. Like A LOT!
And it wasn’t fun at all. I mean not only did I want to be accepted, I mainly wanted to be respected. It was really difficult to be singled out pretty much everywhere I went and people just know immediately that I was weak.
How did they know? Maybe it was my glasses.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned something. I’ve learned that God wants us to be tough too, but a different kind of tough.
I took up boxing in high school in St. Thomas because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. From being bullied in middle school and it continuing into high school, I was just done with it. So my younger brother and I found a boxing gym on island and decided to join.
Unfortunately, my younger brother was a lot more skilled in the ring than I, so I was looked over a lot. Most people just knew me as “DC brotha,” as my brothers nickname was “DC.”
So boxing didn’t quiet turn out like I had expected it to.
I wasn’t that good and my younger brother got all the shine. Just like growing up – he always seemed more liked than me. So I was very frustrated.
But on that same very island a few years later I heard God speak to me as I was driving home from work one day. I heard God tell me to read a chapter of the Bible everyday. So I did.
On my journey in reading God’s Word, I’ve learned a lot. One area I’ve learned about is toughness. What God desires from us in terms of being tough in today’s world.
I believe that if God were to come down from heaven today and take a trip into some of the toughest neighborhoods like Compton or Detroit, He would find a lot of weak people. People that the world may view as tough, but God sees as very weak.
You see there is a difference between spiritual strength and worldly strength. Worldly strength is how tough you are, how strong you may be and how you grew up with next to nothing but perservered. But Godly strength is seen in the book of Job amongst other books of the Bible.
Here is a man upright and living life to please The Lord in everything He does. But then all of a sudden God allows Satan to take away his whole family, his home and his livestock. All Job has left is his life. And that’s hanging on by a thread.
In many cases, if that were to happen to us today we may just give up on life. We may give up on God, turn to alcohol or drugs or maybe even take our own life.
Job didn’t take his life though, nor did he hit up the local bar to drown away his sorrows (I don’t even think they had bars back then, but I’m sure they had alcohol) or look for the nearest prostitute. Job most importantly did not give up on God. He rather challenged God. Which is what God wants us to do when we encounter trials in our life. Challenge God through a relationship with Him.
That right there builds strength and toughness. The strength and toughness God desires each one of us to have.
Life won’t always be pretty for me and you. Maybe it hasn’t been for a while for you.
It’s okay. God wants to help you. God wants to build up your spiritual toughness.
God doesn’t care about how many people you’ve beat up, cussed out or got the better of. That’s weakness to God because as you can see in James 1:19-20 (New International Version), God doesn’t care about that.
19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
So all these years of me being picked on, bullied, yelled at and disrespected God has been keeping a close eye. Not just watching others try and get the better of me, but rather building me through it all. Building me up behind the scenes in ways God only can do.
Building up my spiritual toughness.
You could probably beat me up now, yell at me and cuss me out. But I’m not scared like I used to be. Because through all that suffering I’ve endured in life I’ve developed a new kind of toughness. A spiritual toughness that far outweighs worldly toughness.
By staying in God’s Word each day for years, I casted my pains, hurts, frustrations and anxieties on Him daily. He took them and molded me. He took them and used them for my testimony. He took them to help me develop in strength to be like Job. Who is in fact my favorite character next to Jesus in the Bible.
Because Job endured that rough season in his life by staying close to God rather than giving up on God. He challenged God.
You see Satan took Job’s family, home and livestock amongst other things to see if Job would curse God. Satan thought Job only worshiped God so much because his life was “perfect.” So Satan wanted to prove to God that Job’s relationship with Him was conditional. But the devil was unsuccessful. And at the end Job remained loyal to God though almost everything was taken from him and he was blessed with double than what he had before Satan took away everything.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know that by staying in God’s Word nothing can stop me. I’m on a journey of faith that can’t be stopped by anyone but God. Not even Satan can run me off coarse.
If I could speak to my younger self now as he was first getting bullied and picked on, I would tell him to be strong and courageous because God is developing your spiritual strength. Tell him that this worldly strength you see around you is fake and not real toughness. That God is doing something in you far greater and something that will outlast this life on earth.
So just trust God. You will make it through.
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
– 1 Peter 3:14 (New International Version)
“God, thank you for putting this on my heart and mind to share. I thank you that you’ve helped me develop my spiritual toughness, which is of a lot greater value than worldly toughness. I thank you also for the book of Job giving me encouragement through the tough seasons of my life. Please help any others out there who believe worldly toughness is greater than spiritual toughness to see it your way. To realize that drawing closer to you by reading your Word daily will develop their spiritual toughness amongst other qualities. Thank you again for revealing this to me Father. Please help us all draw closer to you and for those who may not want to, help them see the value in it. Help them see your Son, Jesus Christ. I love you. In Jesus name, Amen.”