Summary: Focusing on perseverance in faith during trials.
On May 29, 2013 I registered for an event called the “Tough Mudder.” The event that I participated in was a 12 mile run with about 15 obstacles sprinkled throughout. During the event, there are obstacles such as crawling through the mud on your stomach with electric wires above you… carrying sacks full of sand while you swim… running through fire… swinging on ropes… and climbing over 8-foot walls. In 2013, I did the race with a group of about 6 guys if I remember right. I was definitely the most out of shape and biggest guy. I trained for the event for about 6 months increasing the amount of time I could run and increasing my upper body strength. I lost weight and on the day of the race I was ready as I could be.
I had decided that “slow and steady” wins the race. I had three goals for my first of two Tough Mudder races I would run in 2013 and 2014: First, have fun. Second, I would jog the entire distance. Third, I would only skip 1 obstacle if any. I met all of my goals. I had to laugh because the fellows I was with wanted to walk between a few of the obstacles, but I would set out on a slow jog. The rest of them would not be outdone and so they ended up jogging as well. I made my goal of having an absolute blast. I made my goal and jogged the entire distance without walking. I made my goal of skipping only 1 obstacle.
I considered the whole day a success. How was I successful? I would like to say it was because I prepared very well and was in the best physical shape I could possibly have been in. I would like to say it was because I ate lots of pasta the night before and I had more energy than I needed. Truth is I was in moderately good shape and I was as tired as I have ever been at the end of the 12 miles. How was I successful? Perseverance. I decided that I would not quit. I wanted to master my body for this event and make it do what I wanted. I wanted my will to be strong to force me to take one step after another and to finish the race. Perseverance was what got me through this particular race.
READ James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
VIDEO ILLUSTRATION… Perseverance 1, Downloaded from https://www.facebook.com/ESPNRadio1017theteam/videos/1089716494565401/
Verses 2-3 in James chapter 1 introduces us to pretty hefty ideas that are hard for us to wrap our heads and hearts around. We think that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. That’s the way life should work. That is ingrained in us for some reason and is some kind of default setting when it comes to dealing with life. That isn’t how life works unfortunately. I want you to notice that James does not say “if” we face hard times, but says “whenever” which indicates to me that such painful times and trials will come and they will come more than once unfortunately. “Whenever” is not a fun word because it says that difficult seasons are a reality in this life we live. Good times happen to all people. Bad times happen to all people. In fact, Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
James tells us to consider it joy in our lives when we face trials because the trials that you and I face develop perseverance in us. I want you to notice that James does not say “if” we face hard times, but says “whenever” which indicates to me that such painful times will come and they will come more than once. “Whenever” is not a fun word because it says that difficult seasons are a reality in this life we live. “Whenever” is a “continuing ongoing” action word that is open ended.
Some of us are in a difficult season right now:
Maybe it’s in our finances and bills and we are stressed about making ends meet.
Maybe our marriage and arguments and differences are leading us to being someone we don’t recognize.
Maybe our health is not good and we have doctors poking and prodding and testing.
Maybe our spouse or parent’s health is not good and we lie awake at night worried about them.
Maybe our job is quite a chore or a co-worker is making life incredibly difficult.