Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trials are Joy? What?

Most people would agree that Joy is a good thing, and may even have an idea of how to obtain it.  Visions of abundant money, time, friends, family or even walking on some quite beach in the tropics come to mind when we think about joy.  Not many of us however, would think of the “trials” in life as something we should be joyful about, but that is exactly what God says.  

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2 – 4 NIV

I LOVE this passage!  I know I know it seems odd, but let me try to explain why.  

A little over 2 years ago in an effort to improve my health and feel better I started running again.  Over the 2 years I have grown quite passionate about it.  When I started it was difficult to run more than 10 miles a week, and those 10 miles were hard, painful and slow.  However, over the last 24 months I have spent time training, steadily increasing milage and speed, now a typical week is usually around 35 – 40 miles, with MUCH faster times.  I didn’t just run “more” miles, I also spent time doing speed work, interval training, tempo runs, and worked on breathing techniques (ok this makes it sound like I’m faster than I am, trust me I’m still slow).  Anyway, the point is many of these work outs, especially some of the long weekend runs were quite painful.  It would be safe to say much of the time I had no desire to do the training at all!   

I did anyway, I did it because I knew if I wanted to be able to run the race, if I wanted to be able to make the entire distance with reasonable speed the training was required.  

There is simply no shortcut.  The training while painful is an unavoidable prerequisite to complete the race successfully. 

I love thinking about “trials in life” in the context of physical training.   Like those long 20 mile runs, the “trials” we face in life are VERY difficult and unpleasant, but can make us stronger.  

IF we take advantage of them.  

I believe that God doesn’t typically cause bad things to happen to us.  Life is hard because we live in a messed up “fallen” world plain and simple.  He can however, use “trials” to “train” us, IF we let him.   The trick is to trust Him not just in good times, but when we are going through difficult times, and let those experiences make us stronger.  Nothing is more valuable that life experience! 

When I look back through my life I can see time and time again how difficult situations “conditioned and strengthened” me.  God used those times for “training” and “preparing”, so that I would be ready for what purposes He called me for when the right time came.  

The challenge is to have the clarity and vision to recognize these times as an opportunity and consider them Joy.  This is NO EASY TASK, it’s very challenging to have the wisdom to see things for what they really are in the mist of a difficult time in your life.  HOWEVER, IF you can, God will teach you.

Trust me the training is worth it when the “real” race comes!

-Christopher Behnke
I would LOVE your feedback, I’m not afraid of criticism, you won’t hurt my feelings so please let me know what you honestly think about the stuff I write about.  If you have some feedback shoot me an email at chris@behnke.us

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