During our lifetimes, we go through many different seasons. Some seasons are times of blessing and abundance. Other seasons are filled with difficulty, pain and intense challenge. These difficult seasons are the places where our character is forged and refined. Some of these seasons of difficulty seem to continue on with no end in sight, stretching us to our limits.
James 1:2-4 (NASB)
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
So where does the joy come from in these seasons of trial and testing? The joy comes from the knowledge that you are being built up. The word “endurance” is used to describe that process that is at work during these times. The word endurance gives the picture of continual forward progress in spite of great resistance in the opposite direction.
Consider the endurance of a runner. A runner trains by enduring countless miles of running. Each mile requires a new commitment to run the next mile. With each stride the muscles, the lungs, the circulatory system and the mind face resistance. As the days go by, the runner gains speed and increases distance. The distances that once were difficult to achieve are now commonplace and the runner has set their sight on even greater distances.
The same is true of life. During these times of trial the key components of our faith and character get a workout. Our prayer life deepens, our time in the scriptures increases, our reliance on those around us becomes greater and our willingness to trust God expands into new areas of our lives. The end result is new found strength and resolve. We are able to face new situations with confidence, because we can look behind us and see the “insurmountable” challenges that we have overcome, survived and endured. The endurance born out of trial has now become the foundation of our resolve to keep pressing forward in the face of new adversities.
Today you may find yourself dead center in a season of difficulty. Let your foothold of joy be found in the strength of character that is being built within you. When this season of testing comes to an end you will be much stronger, much faster and much better equipped for the challenges that lie ahead of you.