Thursday, March 20, 2014

Being in God's Weight Room

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)

In preparation for an upcoming knee surgery, I am putting my body through many trials.  These trials will make my body increasingly stronger and better able to handle the recovery from surgery.  These trials are more commonly referred to as “weight training.”  Though the workouts are challenging and I am often sore after the fact, I am finding great joy in these “trials” because I know, by the time of the surgery, I will be prepared and in great shape for a quick recovery.  

The whole point of weight training is to demand of one’s muscles more than they are accustomed to doing, thereby making them stronger.  It is not without discomfort and challenge, but the end result is considered worth the cost.  I believe this is a good analogy to understand what James is saying here.  

Our tendency is to recoil from the bad things in life.  Instead of embracing them as a means of strengthening us, we seek to avoid them by being risk-adverse, or we attempt to escape their impact via drugs, alcohol, sex, hyperactivity, etc.  Few of us find joy in the hard knocks of life.

Yet, from James’ perspective, these tough and difficult times can be a source of great joy because, if we persevere through them, we will find growth and maturity on the other side.  I can attest to the truth of this. Both of my parents died after long illnesses during my college and grad school years.  Though extremely painful, I look back on those years as some of the most spiritually significant years of my life.  I learned so much that I would not be the man I am today without those experiences.  Much later in my life, my first wife left me.  It was an extremely difficult time, but, again, it shaped me spiritually in ways I would never have imagined.  As a result of these trials, and many others, my faith has matured and I am spiritually stronger than I would have been without them.  Why?  Because my faith was stretched and tested.  

Today, don’t be afraid of the trials you are facing or will face.  The Lord is allowing them so that you can have the opportunity to grow and mature in your faith.  Think of it as going regularly to God’s weight room.  As your faith is tested, it will grow.  It may be uncomfortable and even painful, but the joy is found in knowing what the results will be.  

© Jim Musser 2014

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