“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3 (NIV)

I relate to the main character in Kung Fu Panda, the story of an ordinary panda, who achieves awesomeness through kung fu.

The thing is I like the idea of being so smart and so spiritual that I don’t have to deal with ordinary problems. I wish I wasn’t plagued by the tiny health issues that leave me tired, hurting, exhausted, and too worn out to go about normal life, and I’ve been looking for a mystic secret that lets me be healthy and energized all the time. 

But life with Jesus doesn’t always work that way. Even master apostle Paul had to deal with the thorn in the flesh, having to trust in God’s grace rather than just being so awesomely mystical that the thorn went away. And conversely, God grants us His supernatural power even when we’re struggling with sin, even when we haven’t been studying the Bible diligently, even when our kung fu isn’t strong enough.

And yet, God loves giving His children what they long for, and He sometimes grants me those spiritual secrets that I love. And I found one while reading Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on The Pilgrim’s Progress. Spurgeon pointed out that when we spend our time, our energy, our health, or our money only on ourselves, God strips these resources away from us so we don’t continue to waste them. As soon as I read that, I knew it was true in my life. And as I began to live for others, even in the tiniest ways, I found my body healthier, my nights more restful, and my vitality restored. 

Oftentimes, the hardships we face in life are the training montage where we gain the power to surpass the limits of our mortal flesh. If this is what you’re going through, I encourage you to lean into it, to focus on the needs of those around you rather than your own desires. Because I’ve found when we do, there’s a godly power released that no kung fu panda has yet imagined. 

Prayer: Father, I am tempted to pour all my resources and time into me and me alone. Help me let go of all the things I’m trying to cling to, so I can instead receive the good gifts you have in store for me. 

~ Cameron Miller

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