“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way…Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” James 1:2-4, 12 (MSG)
When we grow up, it takes time for us to become mature. If you remember, you probably heard this phrase: “You are being so immature.” Growing up and learning is part of the maturing process. In order to develop maturity, we have to face new challenges that cause us to develop our values, character, and priorities.
We face challenges everyday. Some challenges are as a result of normal living, such as working to live indoors, eating, and caring for our families. Yet, there are other challenges and tests that come along the journey of life that can almost leave us empty, lifeless, and drained. When we have a bad diagnosis from the doctor, it can leave our faith shaken. When a family member walks out of your life because of anger and bitterness, it can leave you heartbroken. When challenges seem to stack up against us, it is easy to throw in the towel and give up. James exhorts us to consider all of those moments as gifts. Last time I checked, we don’t normally consider challenges a gift. They are usually viewed as inconveniences, frustrations, disappointments, and difficulties. We associate gifts with birthdays and holidays and getting something that we asked for and want. Trials and challenges are usually things that we didn’t ask for and do not want. But, what if we turned the table and looked at it a different way? Instead of trying to stop the challenge, what if we were always looking for what we need to learn? In order for us to experience a testimony of God’s faithfulness, the precursor is usually a test. Through our challenges and difficulties, our faith becomes refined, and our character is developed. According to James, there will be a reward for you if you meet the challenge with courage and faith that God is going to come through for you. What are you facing today that is challenging? In the midst of your weakest moments, God still wants to use it to bring about good. So, let’s face our moments of challenge with our eyes lifted up, our hearts invigorated by faith, and a perseverance that doesn’t easily give up.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.