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James 1:2-4 – Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:3-5 – And not only this, but we also exult in tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.

Hebrews 2:10 – For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Romans 8:18 – For I believe that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

    Most people want growth and improvement – and we want it now (like most things these days).  But there are many things that cannot come instantly or easily.  Some things take time, and are very difficult.  Any athlete can understand this by looking at physical conditioning.  It’s demanding, and it doesn’t come overnight.  A mature faith is the same way, it can be demanding, and it doesn’t come overnight.  But if you want to succeed as an athlete, you need to be in shape.  And if you want to flourish as a Christian, you need to mature.

    We know what it looks like to train for hockey – weights, calisthenics, cardio, skating, etc.  But what does it look like to train for maturity?  Reading Scripture and spending time in prayer are things we should do every day that will have huge impact on our growth – but scripture all tells us that trials and tribulations, the testing of our faith, will produce endurance, proven character, and hope (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-4).  But these passages have a peculiar theme in regards to trials and tribulations – they encourage us to count it as joy and to exult in them.  Like an athlete who feels the burn in the legs and smiles. 

    Even Jesus grew through suffering.  Hebrews 2:10 – For it was fitting… to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.   I believe this is the reason we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, for He was tempted as we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  But there is no greater example of joy in suffering than Jesus on the cross.  Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    We hear sayings like ‘no pain, no gain’, and ‘pain is temporary, glory is forever’ thrown around the sports world and weight rooms.  They are true, but applied in a very shortsighted way.  1 Timothy 4:8 – for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  Just as our bodies will develop through the strain of conditioning, so our faith will mature through trials and sufferings.  Pain is temporary, glory is forever.  Romans 8:18 – For I believe that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

In James 1:2-4 we’re encouraged to count it joy when we encounter trials of various kinds.  What do you think ‘trials of various kinds’ includes?

What trials or sufferings in your life are working to produce spiritual endurance and maturity?

How can you have joy through your trials?

For more reading see:  James 1:12, Hebrews 10:36, Romans 12:12


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