If you are like millions of people from around the world, the amazing 2012 Summer Olympic Games have captivated you. It was stunning to see the all-around gymnastic ability of the young Gabby Douglas from the United States also nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel.” Then we have the dominating athleticism of Jessica Ennis from Great Britain known as the face of the London games. Then there was the tremendous speed of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt whom I believe could give my car a run for its money from a dead stop. What do these athletes have that allows them to reach such heights of athleticism and success - it is the determination to press on it is that of endurance. It is by having endurance that each of these athletes have overcome challenging obstacles in order to reach their ultimate goal - compete for the gold.
These athletes, though amazing as they are today, were at one time just starting out and had to learn the skills of their chosen sport by training for some 10-hours a day for five, six, even seven days a week. No doubt each have had their share of failures only to come back stronger and more determined each time, and this should be the mindset of every Christian in their daily walk with Christ.
A mindset that says though we may stumble or even fall, we will come back stronger and more determined to live according to God’s perfect word. James, the half brother of Jesus, said in a letter to the twelve tribes of Israel dispersed abroad,
"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)
The Greek word for joy is chara (khar-ah’) and it means to be cheerful, jovial, in good spirits and all of which are reflective of that within the believer’s heart. Many people tend to confuse that of being joyful with being happy, but our happiness is often influenced by external things.
For example, an athlete who wins the gold medal is happy and joyful, i.e. happy he/she won and joyful to have competed in the 2012 Olympic Games. The athlete who did not win gold is of course, not so happy, but is joyful nonetheless to have also competed in the games. You see happiness will come and go in our lives based on external influences, i.e. a bad or good day at work, but our joy in Christ is something we choose to have – no one can give or take that away.
Notice James also mentions when we encounter trials and trials are of course those events that bring suffering, distress, anxiety, and so on in to our lives, but the key word here is “when.” It is not a matter of “if” you encounter trails in life that James is speaking to, but that of when.
Life’s trials come at us in many forms such as the death of a family member, the loss of a job, unfaithfulness in marriage, and diminishing health. However, James tells us these trials are to test our faith in order to produce endurance. In other words, the trials we face in life are intended to drive us to even greater depths of faithfulness in Christ Jesus. He who helps us to persevere through each trial and thus increasing our endurance, our staying power, in preparation for times of even greater trials.
We must also recognize that athletes at the Olympic Games would not have reached this level of ability without the guidance and leadership of their coach. A coach is a mentor and one who knows all the ins and outs of physical fitness, nutrition, and the sport of choice. We too, as Christians, have a coach and He is the Holy Spirit who knows all the ins and outs of what it takes to grow us spiritually so that we may become perfect and complete in Christ.
Unlike Olympic athletes, Christians are not competing against one another though we are each running the race of life. However, our goal is not to finish first ahead of our brothers and sisters, but to simply finish the course and run our race well and help one another as we run the race together. In the Olympics, only one can win the gold medal, but when Christians finish their race well, James says a crown awaits them.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
Dear brother or sister, perhaps you are enduring a trial this day and one that seems to have no hope much less a future for tomorrow. Be encouraged to hold fast in your faith by way of Christ and listen always to the good counsel given by the Holy Spirit. In doing so you will not only prevail through the trial, but you will also gain endurance towards becoming perfect and complete.
Dear friend, without a personal relationship with the risen Lord, you have no spiritual endurance and though you have happiness here and there, you lack that of a true inner joy. Does every day seem to be one trial after another and one disappointment leading to another? Be encouraged to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord today. Contact your local bible-believing bible preaching church and ask to speak with a counselor. Tell that person you want to invite Jesus in to your life - he/she will take it from there.
To all brothers and sisters who read this devotion, please lift up in prayer all who are yet lost in that one who reads this might be encouraged to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord - Amen.
About the Author:
Darryl Orrell is an aspiring pastor, writer and dedicated servant of God sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. He writes weekly devotions to inspire other fellow believers as well as leading those who are yet lost to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. You can find him on the web at http://thoughtof-theweek.