Anyone who has ever played sports, trained for a public performance, studied for a test, or started a diet has probably heard their coach, teacher, director, or leader say, "No pain, no gain!" When I was a child, I vividly remember the mental battle that went on in my head as I tried to understand why someone would have to experience something negative (like pain) before they could obtain a reward (the gain). The hours of practice, the studying, the muscle fatigue, and the craving of food we shouldn't eat too much of are the "pains." The victory, the A+, the standing ovation, and a healthy body are the "gains." Growing up in a Christian home and going to church is an enormous blessing, but sometimes it creates a facade on how we should approach our faith. Life is not going to be easy just because you go to church and try to say and do the right things. From a biblical perspective, your life should actually become increasingly more difficult, especially as you grow in your faith. Just so we are clear, it's not Jacob who makes this proclamation, it's Jesus!
The Crucifixion of Jesus is the most literal example in the Bible of "No pain, no gain." It's no secret how much Jesus had to suffer just to save the whole world, but it had to be done to set the example. Jesus says in Mark 8: 34-37, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"
One might ask, "What is the Christian training method when considering the motto, ‘No pain, no gain’?” I believe the Apostle Paul, a person who faced many "pains" and persecutions after his conversion helps answer this question in 1 Corinthians 15:31 (KJV) when he says to the Church of Corinth, "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." To truly emulate Jesus, follow Jesus, and love Jesus, is to die daily to yourself. When Jesus says, "take up your cross and follow me", He knows how painful that is, but He also knows it's worth it.