“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
The Scriptures use athletic and military imagery to describe our spiritual growth. When I read this passage I thought of my uncle Frank. I remember as though it were today, his first visit home after basic training at Fort Benning, GA. When we asked him what ‘boot camp’ was like, he said, “Hot!” Having lived in New York City all his life, he was not used to the heat, the gnats and strenuous training needed to test out of Basic Military Training.
In order to meet the minimum requirement for the physical fitness test, he had to do 31 push-ups, 43 sit-ups and run two miles in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. The purpose of this physical training is to develop endurance, strength, healthy body composition and flexibility. The ultimate goal is to prepare a soldier who will be combat-ready.
We are “soldiers of Christ.” Every day we face physical and spiritual challenges. We have an enemy who preys on our weaknesses. So how do we prepare for spiritual warfare? James gives us the answer. Just as a soldier rejoices when he is able to do 31 push-ups or run two miles in 17 minutes, we can rejoice when we can face troubles and overcome temptations. Every time we succeed in doing this through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are developing our spiritual muscles in order to be combat-ready soldiers in the Lord’s army.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
You are preparing us for battle. We know that when You allow us to be challenged with suffering, trials and temptations, You are giving us an opportunity to grow, to mature and become complete and ready to do battle. You have said that the victory is for those who endure and finish well. We rejoice at every opportunity to please You.
In the name of Jesus, who endured and was victorious,