I’ve heard there are different kinds of muscle, and different types have different characteristics. Skeletal muscles can be built up, and they can regenerate. So if we have an injury or a surgery, muscles that have been cut or damaged can often be restored to their former condition. Or, if you want to build muscle, you can engage in a weight training program in which muscle tissue is ‘torn,’ but then mends and heals larger and/or stronger.
If the soul is this kind of muscle, then it might seem as though God will ‘grow’ our souls through difficulty and adversity. The tearing of our souls will result in a larger and stronger faith. And if that is the case, then we can give thanks for trials - something Scripture tells us explicitly that we should do.
On the other hand, what if our souls are more like heart muscle? My understanding is that this particular muscle is damaged in a heart attack, and that the remnants of this heart damage are detected in the bloodstream. But the heart muscle does not degenerate. It does not come back larger and stronger. What you lose in a heart attack is lost for life.
If the soul is this kind of muscle, then our study of Mark 8:34-38 this past Sunday makes a lot of sense. Our ‘deals with the devil’ result in lost ground, lost opportunities, lost capacities.
Now, our souls are not muscles at all. They are immaterial and spiritual. And yet, how will we care for these souls of ours, in which our faith finds its space to exercise and work? To at least borrow from the images above, we submit to God in love and trust, even in times of unpleasantness; and we flee from sin and the devil, knowing that he is the enemy of our souls.