Didn’t he set us on the road to life? Didn’t he keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, Brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, Road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; Finally he brought us to this well-watered place. Psalm 66:9-12 (MSG)
When I was a kid, I was a competitive swimmer. The beginning of swim season was always difficult. The morning workout was written out for us on a chalk board at the shallow end of the pool. I would stagger into the pool before most of my friends were out of bed, look at the chalk board, and groan. The workout list always looked so long and punitive. Our coach was "passing us like silver through refining fires." He wanted to push us to our limit, to "hell and back," so that we would be pushed to lower times and better finishes. It wasn’t easy.
In Psalm 66, we’re reminded that there is a purpose for this life road on which we travel. God is leading us with intention, even when the road is difficult and we feel pushed to the limit of what we can bear. There is a goal, a destination, on the distant horizon. Our task is to follow, to stick to the road, and press on through this momentarily difficult stretch.