There’s nothing like the beginning of a year to inspire me to make some needed changes in my life. One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is a commitment to become physically fit. There’s nothing wrong with this aspiration, but in 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul points us to a higher goal: “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.” (GNT)

A truly strong life is not displayed externally but internally. Instead of body building, we should focus on becoming spiritually strong. In Matthew 7, Jesus told a story that illustrates the difference between a strong life and a weak life. He said those who are wise build their lives upon the rock of hearing and applying God’s words. But those who merely hear the Word and never act upon it are building upon shifting sand.

Both of these lives may look stable on the outside… as long as the weather is good. But the true test of strength occurs when storms come. The way we respond to hardship, trouble, suffering, and disappointment reveals whether or not we have built on the rock of obedience to Christ’s words. Those who have no firm foundation quickly succumb to doubts because they do not understand why God would allow these difficulties into their lives. Often we feel overwhelmed and are filled with fear, anger, self-pity, or discouragement.

This year may bring a few storms into my life… most of them will probably be small, but perhaps one or two will greatly challenge my faith. As I begin 2014, my resolution is to strengthen my life so that I may stand firm in faith even when the winds of adversity blow. The time to begin building on a sure foundation of biblical application is not in the midst of the storm but every day as we choose to live in obedience to Christ and the principles found in His WORD.

What New Year’s resolutions are you making?

Gladys H. Fleming