Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
‘From TriaI to Triumph’… isn’t that what Jesus did when He rose from the dead? This is still the Easter season. What a perfect time to reflect on how wondrous things can come from the most horrific of circumstances. At our Easter celebration, the pastor spoke of how we can’t experience the joyful resurrection without Jesus first enduring the pain, suffering and humiliation of the cross. He had to die before we could experience eternal life with Him.
We’ve all lived through a year where everything in life was different due to COVID. This has become our new normal. Won’t it be wonderful when we can once again go to a sporting event, graduation or concert without social distancing or wearing a mask? I’m looking forward to the day I need to buy another tube of lipstick…because others will be able to see my mouth.
In order to appreciate the normal things, don’t we first have to experience the abnormal? An expectant mother understands why her stomach must expand as the child inside of her grows. The intense pain she must endure while giving birth is soon forgotten when she holds that precious, new life in her arms.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
! Peter 1:6 (NIV)
I remember the feelings of joy and excitement when I crossed the finish line of my first New York City marathon. I did it! I actually did it!
When we went out to dinner that night, others would come up and hug or high-five me when they saw my marathon medal. It was easy to forget the countless hours spent training in rain, in heat, in cold. I was on such a high, the post-marathon soreness and fatigue seemed a small price to pay.
Those are just two real-life examples of how we often times suffer on our way to achieving the prize. Suffering is not fun, but it is real. Why does it seem to be a prerequisite for many of the things we want in life?
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)
Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross for the ultimate goal of bringing all who believed in Him into His kingdom. A mother endures the pain and suffering of childbirth to bring new life into the world. Both are in the business of expanding God’s family!
We can also refer to suffering as gut-wrenching work. It’s not pleasant… but we do put our whole heart, soul and body into it. We endure suffering because we know it will lead to an even greater victory that couldn’t be achieved without it.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
We keep pressing because we see a light at the end of the tunnel. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I give God the glory for standing beside me as I travel the long, sometimes lonely tunnel of physical disability caused by brain injury. He will do the same for any of us! We need to pray for an open, trusting heart…regardless of our circumstances.
Sometimes we don’t see results with one attempt. We have to reevaluate and try again. Wouldn’t life be grand if we got everything right with our first effort? Waiting, suffering and trying again are a part of life….but so are hard-won victories.
So let’s look at the trials, the adversities and the struggles of our lives as simply stepping-stones to a more triumphant way of managing our lives. We’ll fall sometimes. (So did Jesus!) Sometimes, we’ll have to look at things from a different perspective. But we will develop the perseverance to keep plugging until we reach our goal!
We know You don’t want any of us to suffer unnecessarily. Going through the trial often seems the only way to enlarge our outlook on our adversity. Make clear to us what You’re trying to show us. Help us to get our mind off of ourselves long enough to perceive how others could be helped through our struggle.
We stand before You broken in some way. We ask You for the wisdom to look at our suffering through Your eyes…the eyes of love.
When You deem the right time to move on our behalf, may we rejoice with You and all the angels that the trial we entrusted to You has now become a TRIUMPH for You and us!
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