“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.”
– James 1:12 (ESV)
I have always believed that difficult times reveal character. In the arena of sports, performance will always matter. There will always be those who start and others who appear to have a lesser role. While every competitive athlete wants to start, there are many reasons why they don’t . Sometimes a teammate has more athletic ability or they may be more physically mature. They may have demonstrated more confidence in practice and games or they may execute their assignments well under extreme pressure. Coaches take all of these things under consideration when making out the starting lineup. The character trait called perseverance has taken a huge hit as a result of the transfer portal in college athletics. In the past three months, over 3,400 Division-1, 2, and 3 football players have entered the portal. This is the most in the four-year history of the database. Many of these athletes have not found a new school and there is no guarantee they will. This raises some interesting questions. Are the new rules making it too easy for athletes to quit on their teams and teammates? How many of these athletes will miss out on amazing stories of achievement or learn to overcome difficult obstacles simply because they see the grass greener on the other side of the fence? How many of these student-athletes will continue the habit by giving up too quickly in their future careers, marriages, or personal trials?
God’s Word has a great deal to say about perseverance and it would be wise for us to listen. To live the Christian life neither guarantees instant success nor does it promise a life of ease and happiness. As James reminds us, the road to victory is often long and difficult, but we are called to remain strong and unwavering in our faith. We are not to lose hope or give up. We are not to strain our eyes toward greener pastures. How can we equip ourselves to pass the test when it comes? What tools does God give us to withstand the inevitable hardships that life will bring? First, commit to reading, meditating, and applying biblical teaching to your life and work every day. When we invite God to speak to us through His Word, He brings new strength each day. Second, pray at all times. No matter what difficulties we face, God is ready and waiting to listen and help us to move forward. Third, be an active part of a church that teaches God’s Word and supports one another. Fourth, commit to study and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Strive to be more like Him each day. Finally, we have this promise: whoever perseveres, will receive the reward that God has prepared for each of us. What is this reward or crown? To experience the joys and glories of heaven for eternity.
Heavenly Father, burn the words of James into my heart today. Teach me to stand firm against the trials that come my way. Help me to never give up, give in or give out in my walk with You. Amen.