James 1:2-4 MSG
v2. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
v3. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows it's true colors.
v4. So don't try to get out of anything pre-maturely. Let it do it's work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in anyway.
WOW! This passage is speaking very strongly to me this past week. Everyone of us faces seasons in our lives where things don't go our way. Sometimes we have control over them, sometimes we don't. In any case, we are presented with a choice to let these frustrations take us out or take us up.
I love that Paul calls tests and challenges a gift. Our natural response to challenges is to back away from them. Gifts, on the other hand, are rarely refused. Seeing a challenge, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to grow us will cause us to embrace it.
Walking through a challenge is never easy and when the pressure is on, reality can overwhelm us. This is when leaning on God is extremely important. But, filling ourselves with His Word and keeping our prayer life vibrant is just as important in the good times as it is in the bad. We would not expect to run a race without training first, therefore it's important to invest time into our relationship with God so that we're stronger in crisis.
Growing up I was not very active. I played softball and enjoyed it because there wasn't a lot of running involved and usually it was only in short spurts. If faced with a running drill I would sprint as fast as I could to get it over with-usually ending in a sad, lung-burning walk half way through. Endurance was not my specialty and I wanted nothing to do with it. This all changed a few years ago. Through participating in triathlons I got a revelation of the importance of building endurance in life. I learned that sometimes you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes you have to tell yourself 'just keep going' to the rhythm of your cadence until you've completed your race. My friends and I joke when we arrive at a race, asking each other why we keep putting ourselves through these events. We put ourselves through it because of what we feel at the end.
Frustrations are a part of life but they're usually the catalyst that enlarge our capacity, elevate our faith and prepare us to live the life God has called us to!