Is There a Purpose in Hardship and Difficulties?
Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 13
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind 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. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. —James 1:2–4
I remember the first time I saw the summer Olympics on TV; the marathoners were running. I watched as the cameras followed alongside them and thought “I can do that!” I was in the 8th grade at the time. My parents assured me that these runners had trained for years to be able to run like this.
The announcer mentioned their average speed, and I was sure I could do this. So, my parents suggested that I try running alongside the car and they would pace me. They drove me to a lonely stretch of road, and I jumped out and began to run.
I almost lasted 100 yards, as I watched the car slowly pull away from me.
What I didn’t realize, as an 8th grader, is that these Olympians had been built endurance in their training for years. None of them ran at this pace in the beginning. Each of them built on their endurance by regular work outs.
Life isn’t a sprint—it is a marathon. And to run in life will take patient endurance.
Jesus’ younger brother, James, tells us that when troubles of any kind come our way, instead of being downhearted, consider it as an opportunity for great joy. Because we know that the testing of our faith produces endurance.
Have you ever noticed that troubles, difficulties and the like, drive us to ask God for help? When times of testing come, the best thing you can do is to go to him for help. As he responds to your request, you become encouraged and grow in trusting him.
James finishes these verses by declaring the person who allows full development of their endurance will be completely outfitted for the race of life.
If you wanted to build running endurance, you could Google “marathon workouts.” But how do followers of Christ build endurance for the race of life? Instead of waiting for trouble to come to build endurance, we’re better off putting a system in place to build endurance in us—even in the good times.
The best pattern I’ve seen to grow in endurance and faith is in the book of Acts. Here is the pattern we see for the early believers:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42
They built endurance in their faith by devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching (God’s word), to fellowship and sharing meals (that is doing life together) and to prayer.
Then in Acts chapter 5, it gives us another insight into their weekly training schedule:
And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42
So, they met in large groups (in the temple) and in small groups (in homes) throughout the week, and in these they devoted themselves to God’s word, time together and to prayer.
Bill Herried is lead pastor at CenterPoint Christian Fellowship in Tacoma, Washington. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, and Master of Divinity from Corban University in Salem, Oregon. He is married to the most extraordinary woman on the planet. Together they have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren and loves a good biryani. You can learn more about Bill on his blog, Your Daily Encouragement