Trials that Transform
James 1:2-4 is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible, and it's also among the most difficult to grasp.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Pure joy!?!? Where is the joy in things like losing a job, cancer, racism, or a global pandemic!?
If that's our line of thinking, we might be misunderstanding the word 'joy' in this passage. The word joy translated here in Greek is "Chairó," which is to delight in or to experience God's grace. It's not about experiencing forced happiness, throwing on a fake smile by pulling up our emotional bootstraps. We're called to enjoy new depths of God's grace during trials. We can be delighted in knowing that He is with us, loving us, and producing a change in us amid hard things.
Here's a practical example:
As a research project, the University of Arizona created the 'Biosphere 2' to simulate the earth's biosphere. This giant greenhouse was larger than three football fields and held all sorts of plants, including trees. The trees grew healthy and fast inside this ideal environment. But as they got bigger, something peculiar happened; they began to collapse under their weight. The study uncovered that the presence of wind in a tree's life makes it stronger. The wind, though it makes a tree bend and puts stress on its branches, strengthens the tree, allowing it to stand strong over the long haul.
This concept applies to our fitness as well. A workout is a trial we put our body through. While the stress of intense movements and heavy loads brings on pain, it also creates mini-tears in our muscles. Our body repairs these mini-tears, building those muscles back stronger and more resilient. We endure and even delight in this process because we know the physical benefits that will come of it. And even though it's tempting to skip reps or avoid the pain altogether, knowing it's producing something helps us not only endure but attack the momentary discomfort.
(Gosh, I love this! Working out is HARD! No one ever said it would be easy. If they did, they were lying to you!! lol! But knowing the benefit is just on the other side should keep us doing that one more rep!)
This is why we can approach each stress and strain in life confidently; knowing each point of pain is a chance to relish in God's grace and fortify our faith. Our proverbial tree branches strain under the pressure life dishes out, and while it hurts, we know it makes us stronger. Therefore we embrace the gift of God's grace, and that mindset keeps us from crumbling. That is a cause for joy!
Goodness, 2020 really gave us a chance to learn about and experience God's grace. So many experienced sadness, heartbreak, loss, changes. But on the other side of that did we also experience the grace, growth, strength, determination, love and yes, even joy.
I often like to take these moments and ask, "Lord, what do you want me to learn from this?". If we don't learn and grow from our circumstances, we just may have to come back and have to be taught again.
Let's practice this joy in a workout when the stakes are low, so you are prepared for when the stakes are high. Then you'll be motivated to respond as God asks you to: "count it all joy."
"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 it 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."James 1:2-4 MSG
Credit to Become Faithfit: Invite God into Your Workout daily devotional
with notes from Coach Mo