Some people say the spiritual life is easy and without pain and struggle–don’t believe them. The way of Christ will test our stamina, it will try our patience, it will pain our sensibilities, it will challenge our strength, but anything of value usually does. We know this, we just haven’t been told in a while. Life in the spirit requires rigor. However, that doesn’t mean the spiritual life is all pain and challenge–it’s not. There is glory, fantastic freedom, and joy like we can only imagine. But all of this fruit comes to us through an unfashionable word, asceticism, which is a kind of physical training that enables spiritual flourishing. This kind of training embraces the cross and frees the soul, empowering it to love increasingly like God. We have to learn to embrace the tension: the cross precedes resurrection.The path to joy is restraint. The way to freedom is discipline. The road to love is sacrifice. It's a brilliant balance.