Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Some of the truths in life are counterintuitive. If we didn’t come to know they were true, somehow, we would probably never imagine that they were. I remember hearing one such truth in my later teens, when I started to work out, doing strength training. My uncle, Alphonse, who had for so many years taught me all about postage stamps and collecting them, was very much into strength training and encouraged me to go to his home-built gym, in his garage, where he would teach me how to develop bigger and stronger muscles. I knew that he was one from whom I could learn much about that, as, even in his late fifties and sixties, he was stronger than most of the young guys who worked out at his gym!
In his gym, he had lots of pictures of bodybuilders and a good number of signs with various slogans and instructions. I remember offering to print up many of his hand-written signs, using fancy color printers at the college where I attended. One such sign said “No Pain, No Gain.” For those who have heard this expression, and are familiar with it, you know that the central meaning is that you can’t expect to make physical gains, unless you are willing to push yourself to the point of physical pains.
Well, that is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to do easy exercises, for very short periods of time, with the end result being that I was very strong! Was that too much to ask? Apparently, yes, it was! If I wanted the results, the gains, I would have to endure the hard, and to me, unenjoyable, pains of pushing my muscles to uncomfortable places. Bummer!
Well, on a somewhat related note, James, in his epistle, says, “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.” (James 1:2-4)
James states that, if you want to grow towards spiritual maturity, if you want “spiritual gains,” then you are going to have to endure trials, or “pains.” Seriously?! Yes, seriously! In fact, in light of this deep, albeit counterintuitive, truth, James further states that we should actually “consider it all joy” when we endure these trials!
Like you, I wish it wasn’t so. But facts are stubborn things. They are true, whether we want to believe them or not. And, the fact is that the deepest growth occurs in our lives when we go through trials, as long as we go through them in such a way that we look to God for wisdom (James 1:5-8) and recognize His sovereign hand in and through them.
Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, had this to say: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) God’s got things he wants to accomplish in your life, things that will produce spiritual maturity. Take confidence in this fact, and don’t forget that often that growth comes through trials!
(c) 2019 BOBBY ROY for devotional
(c) 2019 ELICIA ROY for photographic image
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