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How Resistance Can Lead to Strength


Gwen Smith

September 22, 2016

Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Encouragement, Faith, God's Promises, Strength, Trials, Trusting God

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My daughter plays competitive volleyball and recently began a specialized resistance plyometric workout called Vertimax training. The actual Vertimax equipment looks rather unimpressive. It’s a sturdy platform that hosts a complicated series of industrial-sized rubber bands. The results of training with this system, however, are anything but unimpressive. This advanced resistance-training helps to increase vertical jump, strengthen and protect muscles, and accelerate an athlete’s reaction time. Everything a volleyball player wants!

But let me tell you, it is hard work.

Kennedy trains under the careful watch of a guide who knows just how much tension to add and to allow on the platform. And she works through a rapid series of reps to the point of fatigue, and sometimes to failure.

The resistance of the bands increases her strength, but not until her muscles are worn down. After fatigue sets in and the muscles break down, healing begins, and she grows stronger as a result.

Just like in life.

Trials and tension can lead to stress or to strength. Often both! Challenges can tear us down, but they also hold the power to build us up. It’s important for us to realize that we get to choose our responses when resistance wears us thin.

I want to honor God in both good and bad times. Don’t you? I honestly do, but it’s not easy. I tend to get upset about the breakdowns and strains I have to deal with. The Bible shows me, however, that if I didn’t have any resistance I wouldn’t grow.

The beauty of resistance is that it can lead to strength. (If we allow it to.)


Remember what James said?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

I read these verses and a part of me want to run the other way. But I want to grow. I want to mature in my faith, to trust God more, to persevere and showcase His power in and through the pressure.

So how does this play out practically?

Well, I want my marriage to grow stronger. Always. Because even though we’ve been married a long time, Brad and I are two flawed individuals with strong opinions and crazy-different emotions. Those two variables alone set the table for tension, but there are countless sources of strain beyond our shortcomings. (And all the people said: AMEN!)

We know that marriages, and all relationships, are hard work. So for my marriage to be strong – as far as it’s up to me – I need to press through times of fatigue in order to move toward the strength I long for when Brad and I hit the tension point. I need to look to God, my Guide, who carefully watches me, knows all about the hurt, and helps me through the resistance.

If I want my marriage to be strong, I can’t just be stubborn and do things my way because my ways are flawed and weak. (This applies to all relationships!) The ways of the Lord, however, are perfect and strong. So I look to the Bible to instruct my heart and inform my attitude. She brings him (her husband) good and not evil all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12) She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

When I’m stressed out by my man, or angry with him (people…it happens), I have to pray for God to give me the grace that my heart lacks and the willingness to forgive. Even in the times when I’m convinced that he’s wrong. Even when my feelings are hurt or my ego is bruised. Even when, even when, even when… (And believe me, Brad has plenty of opportunities to do the same with me!)

The Bible assures us, Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)


That sounds good to me. I like to know that there is a reward that follows the fatigue.

On the Vertimax platform when the tension bands are removed, an athlete experiences the benefits of the training. Testing brings perseverance. It’s a promise.

What resistance are you facing today? Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)


Dear Lord,
Forgive me for wanting to find the easy way around the resistance that can be used to strengthen me. Help me to appreciate the value in the strains and struggles I endure. Build my strength today in the fatigue I face and help me to look to You and walk in Your grace.
In Jesus’ name, amen.



Read James 1.

JAMES CHALLENGE: Ready to go deeper in the strength of God? Read the entire book/letter of James. Do it today or do it this week. Are you in? Let me know! Leave a comment on my blog wall or on my Facebook page.

As always, my posts are not a monologue. We’re a community. Let’s talk about where you are when it comes to this topic of trials. I love hearing from you and watching the page light up as you encourage one another.

Warmest Blessings,



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About Gwen Smith

Gwen Smith

I am an unashamed, imperfect worshiper of Jesus Christ. I cling to His goodness to cover my mess and purpose my days to live out the hope of the Gospel. It is my joy and passion to inspire women to live fully in grace and truth. I write books, devotions and songs. I speak. I sing. I worship. I post, pin and tweet. I am intensely in love with the Word of God and believe, wholeheartedly, that the Bible is divinely inspired truth.


81 responses to “How Resistance Can Lead to Strength”

  1. carol watkins says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I am strugging with my emotions/feelings and sometimes they overwhelm me. I started a study about emotions yesterday and some how I ended up on your site. It was totally God. He knows what he is doing. thus far, I am being blessed by your message of “the beauty of resistance”. When it seems to hard, I back down because it starts to hurt and I don’t go thru the process. I start to journal, and when I get to a place that hurts, I scribble all over the paper and ball it up. the pain is too great! I know I need to push past the pain and be persistent. I know I need to perserve and finish the process. I get mad at my self and I think I get stand-offish (if that is a word – LOL) at God because I feel like he is not helping me when I try to hard to press in. I get so disappointed at myself because I know I should be further a long in my walk. However, even when I feel the way I feel, I never stop searching and studying the word. I love the Word!!! I admit that I am not always a doer of the word, especially when it its home. My emotions kick in and not realizing it, my emotions are leading me and I can’t get a breakthrough and I struggle to stay lined up with the spirit, especially when things don’t go the way I think. I am praying and asking God to help me with my emotions. He gave them to me and is familiar with all my ways. He knows me better than I know myself, so Hopefully I will soon follow Holy Spirit instead of my emotions with his help.

  2. Jenni Roberts says:

    I am looking forward to reading the book of James!! My marriage is struggling right now and I have been suffering from anxiety and fear because of it. I feel like I am giving 110% and my husband is barely giving any effort to fix what is broken. I come to you, humbly asking for prayer. Thank you so much for your inspiration to keep taking one step in front of the other.

    In Christ’s Love,

    Jenni Roberts

  3. Peggy Jones says:

    I’m in.

  4. Aj says:

    Read James in its entirety. It was so enlightening to read it again. I learned about patience, endurance, asking god for wisdom, how to grow in god, how to prove your faith, controlling your tongue. It is so good.

  5. ana says:

    will read today. Thank you for all the words of ecouragement that strengthens our faith!

  6. Wendy Lebel says:

    Gwen, thank you for allowing yourself to be used for the Lord, being a vessel to bring a word to us. Thank you for encouraging us to put what we learn into practice in our lives. Although the words we get from the Lord are awesome, they are often hard to apply them in our lives as we are all going through so many difficult things… We have to continually remind ourselves to push through for the prize!!!! Easier said than done when feeling pushed from all sides thats when we have to push in more to the Lord and He alone will give us the strength and endurance to push on!

  7. Bonnie Hoffman says:

    Thank you Gwen! This is wonderful to hear! I do need the endurance to reject the wiles of Satan everyday! I was so happy to read this devotional about the Book of James, since that is what one of the Small Groups at my church is studying, this is the group I joined. So looking forward to it! I always enjoy the GIG devotional!

  8. Tammy Hill says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and the challenge.

  9. Lori Johnson says:

    Hi Gwen! Lori here, the one you prayed with several weeks ago whose husband was in cardiac arrest in the ER. He’s been in and out of the hospital the last 3 weeks and we discovered it wasn’t his heart causing all the mischief-WAIT–WHAT?!?! It seems a new medication is behind the mischief, NOT his heart, PTL! So, perseverance! It’s not been first on my prayer list (is it EVER?), but perseverance through Christ is what has certainly gotten me through these difficult weeks. It has grown me in strengths that only the Lord knew could be developed. Thank you for the prayers also! They were answered!

    • Gwen Smith says:

      Amazing! God is so good. Hang in there, friend. Keep trusting Him in every trial.


    • Aj says:

      I don’t know you miss, but I wanted to say a prayer for you. Heavenly father, the god of all comfort, please keep your everlasting arms around this family, grant them comfort, peace and strength for the days, weeks, and months ahead. Lord please be with them and allow them to feel your presence. In Jesus name amen. And so it is and so shall it be! God bless you and your family

  10. Pam says:

    I’m in!! Actually just finished reading the book and all I can say is WOW. I’m new to GIG. Opening my email and reading the daily devotions has become a highlight of each day. Over the years, I have allowed so many things come before God (marriage, children, illness, and work are just a few). God has been there the entire time, speaking to me and giving me direction. God never gave up on me and I’m currently in the process of re-prioritizing and putting God first. The book of James is the blue print that speaks to each facet that has to change. FAITH, TRIALS, LOVE, WISDOM, and WEALTH‼️
    God is so good and I’m thankful and humbled that he never gave up on me.

  11. Tanya Mace says:

    I’m in… great daily blog. Thank you for sharing your heart with the rest of us…
    Appreciate the transparency and frankness.

  12. Kelly Lewis says:

    I’m In!

  13. Kay says:

    Thank you for pointing us to the book of James today, really enjoy reading Girl Friends in God devotions and have told a lot of women about them. Have been in a “black hole” lately and your message helped. Even Christian women can get down if we spend to much time by ourselves. I believe that’s when the enemy can do his best to feel our heads with lies. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up. 4:10. Thanks for helping me up today!!!

  14. Stacy says:

    Yes. I’m in I need to be challenged & need a book of the Bible to dive into 🙂

  15. Marie Greene says:

    I’m in…completed reading James and continue to marvel at how awesome our God is by providing us with a game plan for living. Thank you for all that you do in directing us. Much love!

  16. Giulia C Marrapodi says:

    I’m in too. His grace is sufficient. Add my prayers for all the precious sisters above including Gwen,Sharon and Mary.

  17. Daebreon says:

    I was truly blessed by reading James today. I am so encouraged by God’s Word.
    According to James 1:5, I am wholeheartedly seeking the Lord for His wisdom – pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of good mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere (James 3:17), believing and not doubting that He will generously give it to me. James 5:16 tells me that my prayers are “powerful and effective”. Therefore, I know my prayers offered in faith are answered.
    My Heavenly Father is faithful and He loves me.

  18. Tracey says:

    Hi Gwen,
    I’m in! I’m on the wildest ride with God right now. He has radically COLLIDED into my heart with His love and grace in spite of myself. I grew up in a Christian home, went to Christian school, Christian college, church Sunday AM, PM, Wednesday night, Awana, Youth Group etc etc but realized a few weeks ago that this huge gaping hole in my heart that I’ve been trying to fill with everything and everyone was meant for Jesus and I never experienced that true love connection with Him. He radically changed my heart and life a few weeks ago and I’m forever changed. That being said, my marriage is in crisis (and by crisis I mean my husband asked for a divorce on our 19 year anniversary and we have 3 boys, 15, 14 and 7). For the first time ever in my life I surrendered my life and marriage to God and with the encouragement of Godly women God strategically placed in my life for this very season worked to daily surrender and take the next step in obedience. When my home situation didn’t change after my “love collision” I was tempted to quit because I wanted it all at once. I was quickly reminded who and whose I am as well as what I am asked to do and that is to take the next step of obedience regardless of whether my marriage changes or not. He wants my heart and my obedience and promises to do the rest. It’s beginning to happen ever so slowly, the light has begun to peek through the crack and my husband may be softening towards fighting for this one last time (we’ve tried many times but I’ve never been willing to submit to God’s model of a wife in marriage which is the hardest of things). I was quickly tempted to try and move the process forward faster and try to get quicker results and He gently put His hand on me and said “Stop. Listen. Follow what I say. Obey. Take the Next Step. I’ve got the rest”. He promises that if I keep trudging on I will reap the results He so desires to give me. He is writing the most amazing story. My life has been a replica of the verse in Hosea that says “Then I will lead her into the desert and there speak tenderly to her”. He’s been so faithful in doing that despite my running the other direction hard my whole life. Thanks for this today! Much needed reminder. God meets me right where I am and is giving me the tools to do the next thing!

    • Gwen Smith says:

      What a powerful testimony! Praying for your marriage right now, Tracey. Thanks for sharing.


    • Bonnie Hoffman says:

      Tracey, I am so blessed by your testimony! I wish I had this endurance when I was going through my marriage difficulties! I, too, know that God was there for me, if I had only recognized it when I was going through it at that time. I know HE doesn’t want you to divorce – God will help you through it, He is giving you the strength to keep going and it will be beautiful – beyond what you can even imagine right now! Have you seen War Room?

      God will shower you with many blessings, throughout all the resistance you might receive through this trial in your life.

      In Jesus loving arms,

  19. Liz Milford says:

    Thank you very much. You have ministered to me and I appreciate you!

  20. Laureth Beckles says:

    I’m in! I often feel like giving up but I am challenged now to live out the word of God even when the going gets tough. Thank you for your timely devotions!

  21. I’m in will start this week! Thank you
    Gwen Smith

    Phyllis Driscoll

  22. I’m in…..I’m struggling something fierce right now, both in my relationship and life in general. I thank you for all your words of wisdom and encouragement… God bless you all.

  23. Rose says:

    I am in too. Thank you Gwen!

  24. Tonya Camp says:

    Thank you! I’m in! Sometimes I need that extra push, and you gave that to me today!

  25. Eithel says:

    Im in.Thank you for sharing i needed to hear this.Im facing eviction and must be in court October 7 at 9am.Please keep me in your prayers.Thank you again

  26. Erica Marie says:

    I’m in. I will be reading it today. ❤️

  27. Karla says:

    I’m in. Love the book of James. New insight and timely reminders every time.

  28. Patricia Mallit says:

    Thank you for the devotional this morning I really appreciate it. God chastens those be love and I just got a good chastening. Thank God for his word that is true always.

  29. Lorri says:

    Our Bible Study this winter is on the book of James. I’m very excited to get started. Your devotion today is a good beginning. Love GIG. Thank you

  30. Catherine Bradley says:

    I will be reading book of James. I have been having some very bad dteams about the death of my mom. I wake up in tears and with a bad headache. I hope this reading of James helps atleast a start for my dream depression. Thanks for the information you bless us with.

  31. Tracy Dickerson says:

    I’m in!!! I really appreciate the encouraging words from you and the other two women of God each day. Reading your devotionals each morning gives me enough to get my day started, and when directed to read and meditate on scripture, it makes it that much stronger. Thank you so much for your time, dedication, and commitment to all the women that read Girlfriends in God. Each of you are a blessing.

  32. Jeanette Moore-Holt says:

    Amen. I will be on board reading the book of James. Praise will continually be in my mouth, through the good, bad and ugly.

  33. Norma says:

    I’m in…thanks..just what i needed today♡

  34. Maridell says:

    I am in!

  35. Marguerite says:

    I will read the book, James. I love your devotions and thank God for the GIG’s writings!!


    Thank you for those encouraging words. I needed to hear them. Be blessed.

  37. Gladys says:

    Thank you for this devotion. I am in. I have been going to James 3:1-12 a lot lately. There has been some trials in my home and these verses truly have helped me plus a lot of prayer. And I always start my day with Girlfriends Devotion. Thank YOU!

  38. Fiona Gallitto says:

    I enjoyed reading this devotional and it is a reminder that all He does is for our good! At the moment I feel I can just take the strain one day at a time as my dear Mum went to be with the Lord a month ago after being in intensive care unit for 55 days. All our timetable and priorities have changed. And being a missionary we have to uphold others who are going through diverse problems ( marriage, addictions, etc) May the Lord keep supplying you with these helpful words for us women.

  39. Mary Rukenya says:

    Am in.

  40. Patricia Kuhn says:

    Thank you. As always, God knows how to motivate me. You’re a blessing.

  41. Sharyn says:

    I’m in! 😊

  42. Monique says:

    Thank you, I NEEDED THIS!!

  43. Angela Williams says:

    I Just want to say thank you for this Morning Word And yes I will Read the Book Today Father I ask thank you will continue to Bless this Great Women of God to continue to share your word and her Experience with other Women it is help me . Thank you Be Bless .

  44. Jackie says:

    I’m in! Thanks

  45. Deb says:

    Thank you Gwen! I needed exactly these words this morning. Life is throwing so many things at me right now. The book of James is JUST what I need.

  46. LEIGH says:

    I am in! Thank you!

  47. Camillia says:

    Much needed reminder and another awesome message. It is amazing how God speaks to (me) others, through your words.. I will read it today. Thank you!

  48. Tamara says:

    thank you God for the trials you place in my life that humble me, draw me close to you and show me without you I am nothing. You ARE my joy, YOU are my hope, with you I have my identity and that is a loved precious child of a King.

  49. Gail says:

    God is so amazing. He speaks to us in the right time, if we are prepared to listen.
    Lately I have been seeing the glass as half full. Last night as I was inspired by the Donnie McClurkin’s song “Stand.”Your post this morning provides further encouragement. Blessings.

  50. Beverly Lake says:

    This is JUST what I needed to be reminded of today ! We (my family & I ) have been going thru a very frustrating time with a insurance company after my grandson totalled his truck in an accident. I love it how God always puts in front of me just what I need to hear, when I need to hear it !

  51. James A Samways says:

    Thank you, as a 83 yr widower of 4 yrs with 4children 3 great GC. Oldest of 9. 59 married to a wonderful wife, chosen by God. This all rings so true, but in the end, developes Characrer and Spiritual Strength. On our married night, my wife got into bed last, switched of the light, and said, love can I share something with you before we go to sleep! The cleaner Lady, in the home she worked as a Nanny, share with her, that before going to sleep each night she and her husband,would
    Go over the day,was there anything that they needed to ask ‘forgiveness ‘ for.they would then just to that.between them say sorry,ask forgiveness, then hav a kiss and cuddle before going off to sleep. They were still together after some 27 yrs.
    Often a rather tempestuous daily routine. They were not always at one, He was
    A gardener, she was a cleaner in various homes lived in counsel housing. But had remained together because of that simple act. It too became our stay as in Christ, it never failed us.The power of the Blood has always been our bond!

  52. Collette Campbell says:

    I am starting now because I need it

  53. Twanishia says:

    This just Blessed my life, I was actually thinking about divorce before reading this, but now I must I’ve discovered I’m Under a trial, and It’s to early to determine the outcome, because God is about strengthen us through resistance.

    • Gwen Smith says:

      Oh, Twanishia! God is so good! And so ABLE to do above and beyond what we ask for or imagine! I just prayed for you and encourage you to continue pressing through the resistance, friend. Please join me in reading the book of JAMES this week. I expect the Word will speak loudly to your heart as you move forward through your marriage trials.

      Hugs and Blessings in Christ,

  54. Dorothy H says:

    Thank you for comming my way Gwen. Thank you Lord for calling on me to be your child.
    Show me the way And have mercy and patience when I fail

  55. Debbie Bostic says:

    I am in.

  56. Juanita Jordan says:

    Thank you thank you just what I needed to read

  57. Dona Luna says:

    I am in to read the book of James. I was looking for a new book in the bible to read. And I love finding ways to make my marriage better and stronger.

  58. Pat says:

    VEry timely blog for me personally. I’ll be reading. and praying

  59. Trish says:

    Gwen thank you so much for this. I feel I’ve hit a wall but gods messages through my devotions are all spot on. My dad passed away June 28 and my mom is widowed and I don’t know how to help her without feeling more pain so I detach myself by finding other things to do. I read James 1 and the last James 1:27 is a perfect example of what God is telling me to do and then I’m like really? I am constantly resisting even with my children and time spent with them and then I feel guilty for not spending the time it’s a crazy cycle and I’m stuck! I’m in such a fogg

    • Gwen Smith says:

      Thanks for sharing that, Trish. I’m very sorry to hear about your dad. I lost mine last December and know that fog well. I’d recommend that you give yourself some grace, but continue to press in to the presence and Word of God. He will continue to lead you, as He did this morning, through His Spirit and His Word in this time of grieving.

      Hugs and prayers,

  60. Yolanda Deese says:

    Thank you Gwen, for I also needed this word on today, God knows just what we need ladies and He always gives us just what we need. I pray God’s blessings on each of you.

  61. Laura Lindberg says:

    Thank you Gwen. I just skimmed through James. Yes there are trials. I relate so well to Tammy my physical body is not strong any more and I think I have been through some depression. God is good. Every good and perfect gift is from above. From our father of light who does not change like shifting shadows. He knows what I need. He does grow me through the pain and trials. Next step is to trust God for healing as it was confirmed yesterday that most of my health struggles are likely due to anxiety. I do agree and pray for wisdom in overcoming the sources of hurt and stress in my life. And wisdom and counsel for what to do to make myself strong again. Bless you Gwen for God’s perfect timing with his word through you.

    • Zoe Gambrell says:

      I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I had a nervous breakdown back last November and was off work for two months. I am better now but it has been a long, hard battle. I still struggle with the depression and anxiety at times. I am telling you that to say this, I may not have the same issues you’re dealing with but I do know exactly how you feel. Praying for you sister.

  62. Fern says:

    My. Nil drew are still not believers. I’m 67. Will they never turn to God. This is a Hugh strain on me. Then there is the daughter in a very unhealthy marriage causing emotional damage to my grandchildren, my husband health issue, renters moving out, finding my place in retirement. There is so much. To say yes Jesus help me to learn through this all. I want to scream. Have you forgotten God.i know my family has choices and they have chosen at this time not to turn to God.

    • Gwen Smith says:

      Thanks for sharing, Fern. I’m praying for you and for your family now. I do encourage you to join me in reading through James this week! God leads our hearts so beautifully through His Word.


  63. Elaine Tomasello says:

    I’m in. James seems like a really good book to read and glean the wisdom of God from. I am going to sit down and read it. And make notes. Life is so full of ups and downs. Sometimes I cry for no apparent reason. I cry out to God for the answers I seek. And sometimes I don’t get the reply I think I want. So I continue to ask for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance.

    Thank you Gwen for this wonderful article. God bless you!

  64. Tammy says:

    As always God’s timing is perfect! Thank you Gwen for being His vessel to bring me this much needed message. You couldn’t have been more spot-on with this being my trail right now. My body is physically wearing out, I feel exhausted and depression setting in….and in my heart I know there’s a reason for the pain, both physically and emotionally, but feeling too weak to keep strong. And my relationships are struggling due to this too….its a change in seasons in sure, but change is hard! I WILL come out of it, but I needed this reminder to keep trying to get out of the pit. Thank you

  65. Brooke Grzanich says:

    This message was exactly what I needed today! I’ve got a challenging class this year & I often feel defeated by the end of the day. I start every day anew & try to be positive so I will take this message with me this morning as I head back to my classroom. Thank you!

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