James 1: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
The benefits of physical activity are well documented. The need to push our body beyond our comfort limits (stressing the body) are also well known. In fact, the whole process of building muscle, first requires stressing those same muscles. An article I recently read, How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym, addresses this at more of a mental level. The author recalls when he first began marathon training and something his coach told him: “learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Having competed in many distance events (marathons, multi-day triathlons, x-country ski marathon etc.), all I can say is a big amen to that. Uncomfortable would probably be closer to the norm than comfortable. If you are a serious athlete, then you can likely relate to that sentiment in your chosen sport.
According to the author: “Research shows…if anything, physical activity boosts short-term brain function and heightens awareness. And even on days they don’t train — which rules out fatigue as a factor — those who habitually push their bodies tend to confront daily stressors with a stoic demeanor. While the traditional benefits of vigorous exercise — like prevention and treatment of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and osteoporosis — are well known and often reported, the most powerful benefit might be the lesson that my coach imparted to me: In a world where comfort is king, arduous physical activity provides a rare opportunity to practice suffering.[i]”
There is great wisdom in taking care of your body and your mind. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and taking care of yourself increases your chances of being healthy and having the capacity to help others and the capacity to deal with trials. However, many people take care of their bodies and many spend inordinate amounts of time doing so, and thus turn their body into the temple itself. I believe physical activity is just a small piece of the wisdom that God has for every believer.
If you read today’s scripture in context (James 1: 1-8), you will see that the author James (brother of Jesus, and leader of the Jerusalem church), is encouraging the Christian church in how they should view trials. He encourages them to view trials as “joy” (vs. 2) because they “test” our faith and they “produce perseverance” (vs 3). The perseverance we develop leads to making us mature, not lacking anything (vs. 4). It is in this context that James writes: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5).
I pondered this for a while. When speaking with a Christian who is struggling through a trial, what is your natural reaction? It is to offer them comfort and encouragement; I don’t recall ever encouraging them to pray for wisdom. James, however, is correct. It is in times of trial that we need to search for God’s wisdom because we know that God is allowing trials (his “Permissive Will”) for a reason and we desperately need his wisdom to move through them with victory. Doing well in our trials may include: maturing, learning new lessons, uncovering sin, increasing our faith, destroying a rebellious attitude etc. Ultimately, we need God’s wisdom so that we do not lose the intended benefits of the trials which God allows into our lives.