By Pastor Mark Jordan
“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.” (James 1:2-4, MSG)
I received a gift the other day — a tee shirt with Jesus surrounded by a host of popular superheroes. It has a caption on it that reads, “…and that is how I saved the world.” It is PERFECT for me, and I LOVE it! It is obvious the family that got it for me thought of me when they saw it, which makes the gift even more special. Every time I wear the shirt, I will think of my friends, and proudly share my faith with my love of heroes.
Interestingly enough, it came to me on the heels of some challenges I had to navigate. From personal to professional tests, the gift was a true pick-me-up. As I read today’s verse, however, it caused me to think that the entire series of events was a gift, though I might not always be inclined to see it that way. And how true is that for any of us?
We don’t like difficulties, do we? All things being equal, we’d rather life be smooth sailing. The lesson of faith, however, is that even our challenges are gifts, because they bring our faith-life out into the open. This reminds me of the oft-quoted James Lane Allen line that adversity does not build character, it reveals it. Meeting and beating our challenges helps us develop strength and perseverance to prepare us for the next round with life.
The hero’s journey is one that fascinates me. In the best stories, the hero must overcome the most dire of circumstances to achieve total victory. There are times when you wonder if the hero will emerge from the struggle and how, but that adds to the sweetness of victory. For Jesus, the hero’s journey even included the grave, but that wasn’t the end of the story. And thanks to Him, it isn’t the end of yours either.
Are you going through some faith-testing challenges right now? Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Stick with Jesus, and let Him help develop the maturity in you to help you through the toughest of times.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to help me in my daily living, in good times and bad. May I look to you in all ways and things to help me grow into the person you created and called me to be. Amen.