No pain, no gain.

 

Wouldn’t a motor on these be the perfect thing?

Reading James 1 

Dear loved ones,

We have tended to buy into the statement regarding exercise, “No pain, no gain.”  We don’t like it, but we accept it.  Maybe we don’t accept it, when you consider the number of people that do not exercise.  I love those Abdominal muscle workouts that you see on TV.  Just put on a belt that stimulates your muscles.  No more Roman chair exercises, or leg lifts, or sit ups.  No more pain, just a few batteries, strap on your belt, and a “six pack” will be yours.  You can continue on your way, doing your own thing, with no effort or pain to experience.

When it comes to spiritual matters, “No pain, no gain,” seems to be mouthed at times, but with it we question whether it is really necessary, whether it is really consistent with who God is, whether God is really there and why He would allow so much pain.  And it seems that even more people want to see that “pain” removed from their lives as soon as it arrives.  Give me some medicine, heal that relationship, give me a job, provide for my debt, but I remain unchanged, except for the pain that is, and my discontent with it.

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

James is a little strange isn’t he?  He doesn’t start by questioning God, and why He is allowing pain in our lives, or even suggest we quickly ask God to remove the pain.  No, he has the audacity to suggest, “No pain, no gain.”

He tells us that life is filled with trials of MANY kinds.  And he tells us that in the midst of that pain is when the testing of our faith leads to maturity, to a place in our life when we will be complete, not lacking anything.  He goes on to tell us to ask for wisdom in the midst of it.

So maybe Paul in Romans 8:28 got his message from God right. 

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Maybe Jesus had the answer for us. 

John 16:33 (NASB95)
33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

It is in Him that we find peace.  He knew there is tribulation in the world.  He offered Himself, His very life, so that we might have Life, Peace, Hope, Joy….Jesus living within.

So when trials come up, look to Jesus, whether they are from this sin drenched world, or from Satan himself.  They are all opportunities to grow, opportunities to serve, opportunities to see the devil overcome.  Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!

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

The pain may come your way today, may bring gain to the Kingdom, of which I pray you are already a part of.

Love,

Steve

BIG P.S.

By the way, this does not mean we deny the pain, or try to hide it.  We acknowledge how real it is, share it, and together with Christ we find hope through it, in Him.  That may mean crying together, searching together, just being silent together.  But I believe that the more we understand that we are “together” in Christ, that we are one, the more we can do “our part” in the body of Christ, and we will grow as a body.  (Ephesians 4:16)  

It is interesting that this portion in Ephesians 4 matches up with  James 1, the idea of being tossed by waves and wind. 

Ephesians 4:14-16 (NASB95)
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

James 1:5-6 (NASB95)
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Wisdom in understanding what pain leads to is key, and we find that in the truth of God’s Word, from God Himself.

We need to speak that truth in love, and grow in Him.  With gentleness, may we love one another and speak truth into each other’s lives.

What part do you have today?

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