When our first child, Hudson, was born, Eric and I felt like we’d been run over by a bus. While other parents seemed to peacefully stroll through the mall or the park with their serene child asleep in the stroller, Hudson was wired for sound, wide awake, fidgeting, fussing, and wanting attention almost twenty-four hours a day. Other moms would brag about how their newborns slept peacefully for eight hours each night from the day they came home from the hospital. But Hudson had acid reflux which would cause him to wake up screaming every thirty or forty minutes all night long. After about four months of this, I was at my wit’s end. We hadn’t gotten more than a couple hours of broken sleep each night since our new little blessing from Heaven had arrived. We were trying to fulfill book deadlines and run our ministry, but we were so worn-down from the new adventure of parenting that we could hardly function.
Several months into our new life of fatigue and sleeplessness, God began to awaken us to a hidden opportunity being presented to us through our baby…tensile strength training.
The strength of rope is measured by the term “tensile strength.” Great weights are tied to the rope and then dropped to test the resiliency of the rope under stress. The greater the ability for the rope to endure weight and combative force, the stronger the tensile rating.
Our souls are measured the very same way. If we have never focused on building our tensile, then even the smallest weights and stresses will cause us to snap. But if we are willing to build our tensile and train like an Olympian, our soul will be able to endure weights even as gargantuan as imprisonment and torture. The heroic Christians throughout history that gave up their lives in such astounding ways were the ones who trained their inner physique to handle the greatest pressures and stresses life could throw their way.
Hudson Taylor, for example, was known as a man who could endure the most extreme crisis with unshakable calm and unwavering confidence in the faithfulness of His God. Throughout his Christian life, he faced incredible hardship, fatigue, and stress beyond what a normal human can handle. Most others would have crumbled physically and emotionally under the weights that he carried. But by God’s grace, Hudson Taylor allowed each challenge, each trial, and each hardship to build his inner tensile strength. And thus, every difficulty that came into his life only made him stronger and not weaker.
Eric and I realized that the difficulty and inconvenience of raising a high-strung baby could either strengthen us or weaken us. It all depended on how we responded to the opportunity God was putting in front of us. Thus far, we’d only focused on the hardship, the lack of sleep, and the frustration of having a child that never seemed to settle down. But now, we began to thank God for the opportunity to be made strong through the new challenges of parenting. We began to stop complaining and start rejoicing every time we had to wake up in the middle of the night (which was a lot!).
Soon we began to discover a new-found grace and joy in the difficulties we were facing. We were no longer exhausted, though at times our bodies felt tired. We felt buoyed by a supernatural source of strength. As we rejoiced in our trials, we began to have the ability to handle more and more weight without crumbling and falling apart. It was astounding to see what happened in our souls as a result of the simple choice to rise up on His strength.
Eric and I have discovered that the most extreme challenges we’ve faced in our lives have been the very tools God has used to equip us for the epic life-or-death battles we’ve had to fight in our ministry.
If you are going through any difficulty right now, allow God to build your tensile strength. As you look to Him, lean on Him, ask Him for grace, and rejoice instead of complain, He will leverage every trial into a great opportunity to be made stronger for His glory!