I enjoy running. I am not particularly fast, nor do I run very far. But I do run. It is a release and a time of renewal for me. One thing I have noticed about running, to get stronger, you have to run a bit farther ever time. Maybe 20 minutes the first week, 25 the second and so on. What I have found is that those last minutes of a run are grueling. My legs grow tire, my lungs burn, and I feel a sense of wanting to simply stop. But what is amazing is that the body responds to this extra exertion by getting stronger and more fit. The next time, those last minutes are bearable and I am able to run longer and farther before the same sense of exhaustion hits.
Our spiritual life works in a similar way. The trials and difficult times of life can be exhausting. They can cause us to lose faith in our giftedness, our passion, and most of in our Lord God. Scripture is filled with stories of people who faced overwhelming difficulties. Some self-induced (Sampson, Jonah et al) and others not (Job, Peter, Paul et al). And the common theme is that through perseverance and dependence upon God, they were able to complete their calling and grow stronger spiritually.
Maybe that is why James wrote in James 1:2-4 that when troubles come we should consider it an opportunity for great joy. For we know that the testing of our faith produces endurance and when endurance is fully developed we will be complete in Christ, lacking nothing.
This is not meant to be “polyannish” in the face of personal troubles, but rather it is meant to give us perspective so that we can remain strong in such times. To remain faithful. To persevere. That seems to be the call from Scripture over and again.
For those who persever to the end will be saved Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:13. And that my friends is truth to live by no matter the season.