“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must
do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
– James 1:2-4
It’s my experience that teams go through various stages of growth. This growth may occur over the course of a season, or it could take years. It’s common place for young teams to face hardship as they grow in physical strength and skill. Young teams can easily become frustrated and discouraged playing more experienced and talented teams. As the losses come, it’s an ongoing challenge for coaches to keep their athletes motivated and focused on the big picture. I don’t know a single athlete or coach who enjoys going through these types of growing pains. They’re painful and the temptation is to make excuses or just quit. For those who fight to work through these barriers, success often comes a little further down the road. William Ellery Channing, a 19th century preacher once said, “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
It’s also my experience that Christians go through various stages of growth. Like athletic teams, this growth can take place over a short season or it could take years. Young and immature Christians often get frustrated and discouraged when the tough times come. Often new Christians fall into the trap of thinking that only good things happen after entering a relationship with Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. We may have to give up old friends, put away bad habits or lead a more disciplined life when we put on the body of Christ. Spiritual growing pains can hurt too. The challenge is to see the bigger picture. Through the trials, God is building a better and more Christ-like person. We may not enjoy the pain, but we will appreciate the gain!
Lord Jesus, I turn myself over to You today. If I need to go through the fire to be more like You, bring on the heat! Amen.