Muscles need to be stretched. I know that sitting around doing nothing isn't best for my muscles, so I exercise and stretch. I feel better when I stretch and keep my muscles conditioned and active.
Stretching applies to life, too. We need to be stretched. Our modern western thinking conditions us to try to provide for the most comfort and the least stretching possible. But it isn't good for us to just sit around in absolute comfort all the time. This leads only to atrophy. Stretching contributes to strength.
Just when I think I can't do it, a little perseverance and prayer pushes me past the point I thought I would crumble. I experienced it last weekend hiking farther than I should have, running low on food and water with miles of difficult terrain still ahead. But it stretched me and now I am stronger because of it. (So are you, Nathan!)
Just as our muscles need to be stretched, so do our lives. We should embrace and even seek out stretching experiences. Otherwise, we send our lives down the road toward atrophy- "a wasting away or progressive decline."
"...we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope..." Romans 5:3-4