As I am training again for a for an ultra-endurance race I am being reminded of a spiritual truth: to grow means to go through difficulty and pain. And growth comes most in the times where we are wanting to avoid the pain, and so short-curcuit our growth. It is not the training sessions where I feel awesome when I think the most growth and improvement is happening ... the ones when I feel fresh and unstoppable, seeming to have more energy, strength and stamina than usual. It is the sessions where I feel anything but unstoppable, where it seems I have far less energy and strength than usual, and I don't give up but instead to push through with what I have that day ... these are the times I feel are most rewarding emotionally, and over time, are what add to my overall growth physically and athletically. I believe the same happens spiritually. Those times where we are tempted more than normal or seem to be weaker against those temptations, or have a harder time believeing the words and promises of God and thus act and walk in faith. It is by us not giving up that we actually make progress. Typically I think it is when I am feeling closest to God or having the best quiet times with him or achieving some great spiritual feat that I am the strongest and most spiritually fit. But I am often wrong. It's the times when we don't give up, even when we feel tired. It's when we resist even though we feel like we are hanging on by a thread. It's when we choose to believe God instead of ourselves, even when we doubt. It is when we fall, and decide to get up again ... it is trudging through these painful times that we often experience our greatest motions of progress.