Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Â James 1:2-3 (NLT)
I havenâ€™t reached the spiritual level where â€œpure joyâ€ comes to mind when I am going through troubles. The doors on my house are grateful that I have stopped slamming them! I am at the level where I recognize that I can choose not to fall into a pit of depression! I do realize that I have more endurance inside me than I did 15 years ago so I know that some of Jesusâ€™ lessons have occurred!Â â€œPure joyâ€. I am still working on that one!
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. Â Â Â v.12
Here is where I need to grow more and develop my â€˜eternal eyesightâ€™ and â€˜eternal heartâ€™.Â When trials come into my day, I want to be able to â€˜seeâ€™ the marathon race that I am currently in and look up and â€˜seeâ€™ the finish line, however far off it may be.Â I want to keep Godâ€™s goal for me in mind every moment of the day so that I do not focus on the hurdle but instead focus on the point beyond each hurdle. I believe that will keep my steps within Jesusâ€™ steps and allow me to make it over the hurdle and keep running toward the goal.Â The hurdles are not the goal.Â They are part of the trials and part of the run.Â I may be moving through each day, not knowing Godâ€™s specific ultimate goal for me or maybe not accepting His goal, but if my heart is desiring to be in Godâ€™s will and direction, then I can put one step in front of another and stay in the race and on track.
To have the assurance that I know Godâ€™s true nature and character places a seed of trust and faith and hope that is the beginning and end of any and all other questions I may have.Â The â€œknowâ€ part of my relationship with God comes with daily conversations with God; building each day in our relationship.
The gifts and the blessings that God works to place in me does not guarantee me a stress-free, no-problem life.Â God brought good out of Davidâ€™s sins of adultery and murder.Â He brought good out of Josephâ€™s confinement in Egypt.Â God brought the perfect good out of Jesusâ€™ suffering and physical death on the cross.Â Godâ€™s purpose in my life is greater than my problems, pain, and even my sin.
Godâ€™s purpose in my life is that I become like Jesus, the first fruit.Â Everything that God allows points toward this purpose.Â Am I willing to run the race?Â Am I willing to take the next step?Â Am I willing to submit to the discipline of Jesusâ€™ example? When my lungs ache and my feet are raw and swollen, will I choose to trust Him and stay on course?
There is something that happens inside of me when I fly in the face of logic or reason and take that step of faith, in the midst of troubles, and say, â€œGod. I do not know what or why this is happening. I just know that I trust You. So I am going to say, â€˜Thank Youâ€™ today and believe that I will grow and be blessed in the growth with You.â€ Something happens, friends. I canâ€™t tell you that I have some dramatic revelation of the why or what. But I will tell you that after this step of faith, I take another step and I know I am right there with Jesus. Thatâ€™s where, no matter what else is going on in my life, I want to be.
And so I keep runningâ€¦