Did you get a chance to watch the Winter Olympics? I did. I really loved watching the Biathlon. This is the sport that combines cross-country skiing with target shooting. The athletes ski around a predetermined trail system, with a rifle on their back, and each time around, pause to shoot at very small targets. The objective is to be in such good physical shape, that when they enter the shooting zone, they can be calm, focused and stable enough to hit all five targets. Here’s the challenge…for each target they miss, they have to ski around a penalty loop on the inner track before entering back onto the racecourse. Yes, that will put them behind and present them with a choice to either give up or set their mind on overcoming the setback or “trial.”
This reminds me of a verse in this week’s Pause reading plan. It says: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” (Romans 5:3, NLT). “Endurance” is what jumped out at me. Like a finely tuned athlete, “endurance” is the key to success. In fact, in God’s Kingdom, trials are to be rejoiced over, since they produce endurance.
When things are going “well” in my life and everything is “seemingly under control,” I tend to cruise through God’s Word without much effort or understanding. But, when trials present themselves, the intensity of my prayers increase, as does my desire to hear and discern God’s voice regarding my life and circumstance. I work to know God better whenever my faith is put to the test. Consequently, He has never left me stranded without hope or rescue.
To develop endurance, we have to be pushed. We have to not quit or give in when the going gets tough. Like an athlete whose lungs might be burning as endurance is developed, our prayer life and faith are stretched and put to the test. We can either succumb to the adversity, or we can press in to God’s promises and grow our character.
If you are in a place where your faith is being challenged and you’re not sure if you have the endurance to overcome it, well, friend, REJOICE! Perseverance, character and hope are on the way!
Pastor Tyler Shaw