Joy – because of the trials

Written by: Vivian Wilson

This Sunday the Houston Marathon will take place.  Most of you don’t know this about me, but I ran in my first Houston Marathon in 2008, and I finished!  To prepare for the event, I spent six long, and I might add HOT, months in training.  Training involved three weekday runs and a “long” run on Sat.  These long runs increased from three miles to twelve miles.  Part of the training included a half-marathon in Oct., a 25K in Nov., and a 30K in Dec.

Training wasn’t fun, it wasn’t convenient, and at times it was painful, but it was necessary if I wanted to run and finish the race. Training didn’t require me to be all smiles and excited when I woke up at 3:30 A.M. on Saturday so that I could be in Sugar Land ready to run at 5:00 A.M.  Training only required that I be committed to do the runs and fuel my body properly.  The joy and satisfaction that I experienced when I crossed the finish line was worth it all!

This past week was a real test for me, and my attitude was anything but admirable.  After a great week of escape while on vacation, I was immediately thrust into the reality of life. I spent four hours in the ER with Dad on Monday, and five hours in the ER on Wednesday, with Mom. Both were admitted with the flu. Dad came home with me on Thursday. Friday, I took Mom and Dad home to their apartment. I spent the night with them Friday and Saturday, sleeping on a love seat. (I don’t think my back will ever be the same.)

All I wanted was to be home. I didn’t want to do what I had to do. I have struggled all week with the feeling that I am a poor excuse for a Christian because of my less that perfect attitude. I felt like a failure because I wasn’t content, of full of joy or gratitude.

O.K.—I’m guessing about now you’re thinking, “What a downer.  I want to be encouraged, not depressed!”  Take heart!  Be encouraged!  My sweet sister-in-law pointed out to me that even Jesus didn’t want to do what He had to do. In the garden He asked the Father if there was any other way other than the cross. We know the answer, Jesus did what He had to do.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God is training me to be mature, to look like Jesus when the race is over. Training isn’t necessarily meant to be fun. But, just as in the marathon training with the half-marathon, the 25K and the 30K, there are victories along the way. Trials are meant to test my faith, to push me to trust God more. And as I trust him more, I have courage not to give up. Perseverance means to continue a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

My goal in this life is to bring honor and glory to God by allowing Him to transform me into the image of His Son, so that His love and grace will flow through me into the lives of others; that I might have the attitude of Jesus, a humble servant.

Among other things, it takes trials to transform me. So I look at last week as proof that I am in training. I will persevere because I know that at the finish of the race, there will be great joy and satisfaction when my Heavenly Father says to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

All of the above is just as true for you as it is for me. We are in training together. We are not alone. We have the same goal. Let us persevere together.

Your fellow trainee,