Yesterday, I wrote about one key component in preparing to preserve – acknowledging that trials will come. However, as we look to the trials that are ahead, there are other things we must consider in regards to committing ourselves to endure. Specifically, as we look at the beginning of James 1:12 we see this admonition – “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trials.” This alone may cause us to pause. After all, we don’t usually associate blessings and trials with one another – let alone see them in the same sentence. Blessings are what we seek after; trials are what we try to avoid. However, as we reflected on yesterday, the person who is preparing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro needs to anticipate the trials that are ahead, but at the same time needs to recognize that they are blessed for the experience of climbing the summit. Regardless of what difficulties arise along the way, they realize that there will be good that comes not only from their preparation but from walking through the challenges that they will face. They will be better, stronger, and more prepared for future obstacles by enduring through they encounter as they climb to the peak. Similarly, if we are going to persevere we can anticipate that there will be a similar experience for us. If we want to persevere, we need to appreciate the blessings of remaining steadfast.
Recently, much of the nation was captivated by the site of watching the Olympics on TV. I didn’t watch them much but one of the things that fascinated me about the Summer Games was hearing the backstory on many of the athletes. Whether it was Gabby Douglas or Michael Phelps, one after another talked about how many hours they had spent practicing and preparing for these few moments on the world’s stage. Some of them sacrificed sleep, others sacrificed living with their families, just to pursue this passion and this dream.
What I never heard once, however, was someone saying that it wasn’t worth it. Even if the person didn’t win the medal – I never heard anyone say – “you know, I really wish I had given up long ago. Coming to practice everyday, doing what I was supposed to do even when it was hard – it was all a waste of time.” We never heard that because, whether we acknowledge it or not, there are good things that come as a result of remaining steadfast – in persevering in the things that God has called us to do. Even if the outcome is different than we anticipated – as James 1:12 tells us – persevering brings blessings. Therefore, we should acknowledge that trials will come and at the same time appreciate the blessings that will result from enduring through the difficulties.
This isn’t easy. We are used to looking for the “fix quick” and the shortest route. Sometimes God allows us to escape the challenges that otherwise might befall us. However, sometimes, God, in His graciousness, recognizes that the fastest way doesn’t always produce the greatest results. He knows that endurance isn’t just about the outcome, but about the process as well. Therefore, as we commit ourselves to persevere we need to recognize that in faithfully fulfilling this commitment, good often results. The outcome might not be what we want, but enduring regardless is coupled with blessings in and of itself.
If we want to persevere, we should anticipate the trials that are to come. But in doing so let us not neglect to also appreciate the blessings of remaining steadfast.
(If you missed it, the first part of this series can be found here.)