Some of you know that we have had our ups and downs since we have been here. The big picture of God’s work in Europe is exciting, impactful, and inspiring – but when you zoom in on the day-to-day grind of office life and seemingly insignificant challenges, it’s not always so beautiful.
During these times it can be difficult to stay focused on God’s plan, the joy he grants to us, and the purpose behind the difficulties that seem to get in the way of the big picture. So God has had me focused on James 1:2-4.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. (3) For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (4) So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Amidst the day-to-day challenges, I’ve also been running a lot more lately (it’s a good stress reliever for me). Running has always been an important part of my life, and a physical development of my spiritual strength. It is a physical practice, that allows me to develop the discipline and control I need for other aspects of my life – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
For example, one article I recently read was about positive self-talk. If you are running up a hill and you keep saying to yourself “I love hills”, then your brain tries to find a way to make it true. Additionally, when running gets difficult and tiring, instead of ignoring it, there is benefit in telling yourself, “This is good. It may be uncomfortable, but this is what is supposed to happen, because this is what makes me strong.” So it is in our daily life.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (James 1:3)
So these days, as I have been running and training, I am aware of the immediate physical discomfort, I remember my spiritual and mental battles, and I let my endurance grow. I run the hills, I feel the pain, and I say to myself, “When troubles come your way consider it any 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.” Then I smile to myself, I charge the hills and I say, “This is good. It may be uncomfortable, but smile, because this is where I find my strength.”