Muscles of Faith: Growing stronger through trials
How do faith muscles get stronger? Trials. Yes, that’s right. Just like the heaviness of weights lifted to gain strength in the physical body, the weight of trials helps to build strong faith muscles.
No one chooses to go through hard times. No one invites difficulties. Yet humans cannot escape the fact that hard times, storms of life, trials, temptations and tribulations produce stronger muscles.
James points the eyes of the believer toward the notion that trial will come. He is very matter of fact about it. “When trials come”, he says in James 1:2. Trials are the testing of faith. External and internal temptations. Trials call forth a series of responses:
- What to think
- What to say
- What to do
Lastly, and maybe most importantly,
- What do these three responses combined declare about faith in God?
James in his “been there, done that” wisdom encourages believers in Christ to have JOY.
James 1:3-4 “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Sounds a little oxymoronic. Yet, the nudging is insightful. James knows from his personal experience a few key points that cultivate a heart of JOY through trials.
- The suffering in this life is not forever
- God is faithful
- The outcome of trials is greater character, greater faith, greater endurance
Trials shape and mold character. Trials raise to the surface false thinking, lies or warped perspectives that would never be exposed in peaceful times.
Trials may seem to come one after another – like there is no break in between. These compounding trials lead the believer to a greater level of dependence on God. When life is turned upside down and there is no concept of which way is up, all one can do is reach out, and grab hold of God with clenched hands and eyes closed tight.
Make the whirling stop. Make the storms quiet down. Lord, do I pray that some times. But the reality is, as James teaches it – the external trials and internal temptations only have the ability to rob me of peace if I let them. If I chose to give my mind, heart and belief over to them.
I’m an outcomes oriented person. I like knowing that what I do today will produce a result for tomorrow. I think that is one reason I happen to like exercise, and lifting weights. I can see the results. I see the physical representation of the hard work put in.
As an outcomes minded person it helps me to know that the hardships I walk through are producing a result. It’s up to me what kind of result they produce by how I respond, surrender and think.
James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (ESV)
The outcome for this life is to receive the crown of life. Eternal life with Jesus Christ. A life that has no suffering. No heartache. No pain. No sickness. No death. No loss. No grieving. A life that has love, peace, joy, laughter, singing, celebrating, a full & abundant life! Nothing missing. Nothing lacking. Shalom.
What an outcome! The pain we walk through is worth the blessedness of eternal life. Can you imagine? Can you imagine the beauty? Can you imagine the feeling of complete & perfect love & peace?
Mercy Me’s song, “I Can Only Imagine” paints a beautiful picture of the overwhelm we will experience as we experience the presence of Christ.
“Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine”
Dreaming about this moment causes the worries of this life to fade into the backdrop of our lives. The lyrics draw a smile, provoke tears of gratitude and stir our hearts to worship the God & creator of the universe. Lift your head, you weary one! Lift your eyes, for the trials will not last, but they are producing a maturity of faith that results in dependence on God!
To go deeper on this topic, you can watch Cup of Hope videos fro Monday, Wednesday & Friday of this week!
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Need help navigating trials? Check out the available resources here!