Lord please bless the reading of your Word and grant me new insight into how to follow you more closely. Lord before I begin, I’d like to bring a few prayer requests to bring to you. First, I met a guy that used to work out at my gym and found out that he now has cancer. Chemotherapy and surgeries have ravaged his body so I pray for peace and healing for him. Next, I pray that you would work in the hearts of all of the children that I have the pleasure of serving. Also, show me how best to serve them, in your Son Jesus name, Amen!
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trials: a test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something.
“clinical trials must establish whether the new hip replacements are working”
Synonyms: test, tryout, experiment, pilot study
Perseverance (Patience NKJV): steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
“his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”
Synonyms: persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability, steadfastness, purposefulness
Patience (NKJV): the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
“you can find bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross”
Synonyms: forbearance, tolerance, restraint, self-restraint, stoicism;
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This is can be a tough one to swallow, unless of course you are a current or former competitive athlete. We are to be happy about trials and struggles, in sports sometimes you’ll hear the term embrace the grind. This refers to the enjoyment one gets from intense training and physical exertion. The enjoyment doesn’t always come from the training itself, it comes from the athlete knowing what the end result will be. The training and physical distress that an athlete subjects himself to is comparable to our Christian walks and the trials/temptaions we face.
Now, first I will clarify what a true Godly trial is. I will do this with an example of what would not be considered a godly trial. Imagine you have been married for six years, you love your husband but your relationship isn’t as exciting as it used to be. One day, at a conference for your job, you run into your college sweetheart. You talk for a while and suddenly old feelings start to rush back. You start to think of how boring and dull your life has become and you blame your husband. You wonder what life would have been like if you had stayed with your old flame. As the conference ends, you trade numbers and keep in touch. After weeks of secret communications, you feel the temptation to start an affair or perhaps even leave your husband.
To some, this situation may seem like a Godly trial because the woman is torn between staying with her husband and adultery but examine verse 2 a little closer.
The NKJV reads count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Then the NLT uses the phrase, “when troubles come your way.” The MSG says, “Consider it a gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” The key in these translations is the passive nature of the person who encounters these trials. The person does not seek the trial, he/she does not dive into the trial, they fall into it. It is not a voluntary act. Godly trials come as a result of doing what God has told us to do. In the scenario listed above the person’s sinful thoughts caused the adversity.
Godly trials happen while we are living a Godly life. These are adverse circumstances that are no fault of our own but a result of living in a fallen world. Godly trials come as a result of us trying our best to walk as close as possible to Christ. As we walk, circumstances arise that can cause us to either forsake the cross or to draw closer.
The scripture tells us we should be happy when we fall on hard times because it gives us an opportunity to test and strengthen our faith. It also gives us the opportunity to show that we will draw closer to Christ in adversity. Just as competitions give athletes an opportunity to show the end result of their intense training. We need these tests to grow spiritually. In the same manner that an unused muscle will not grow but whither away, so will our faith. For this reason we should rejoice in our trials. And we should be especially joyous if our trials are a direct result of us following the teachings of our Lord and Savior (Matthew 5:11).
Now as our faith is tested and becomes stronger, we learn to persevere. The dictionary definition of perseverance has to do with continuing to pursue something despite difficulty and delay. The NKJV uses the word patience to denote that we should endure with joy and not anger and resentment. When we endure hard times but don’t find godly joy in them, our struggles are pointless.
I remember my time at the Olympic Training Center. Our workouts were grueling, at first I embraced the grind and thanked God for the opportunity to train and be amongst the best athletes in the world. I was highly ranked and enjoyed what I was doing. But eventually I let my joys slip away from, I began to despise every moment of my training. As a result, my performance suffered. I was still working out just like everyone else but I was just going through the motions, I did not see the purpose in it. In a sense, I was just suffering to suffer. It seems many times we face trials in our Christian walk in the same manner. This mentality in Christianity produces the same results.
There were many athletes that were at the OTC with me and embraced the training and found joy in the hard workouts. Some won national titles and some were Olympians. In our Christian walk, if we embrace the grind it produces a mature Christian who has the faith to walk on water and move mountains.
Lord, please give me the strength to embrace the grind!