When Hills Become Opportunities (James 1:2-3)

IMG_0429James 1:2   Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 1:3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Even though I spent most of my life in Winston-Salem North Carolina [1] till a few years ago it didn’t occur how many hills there are in WS.

Thats before I started them every Saturday morning 🙂

In 2013 I joined a training program that involved running with friends at least twice a week using routes decided ahead of time . At first it was just done for fun, but that was before graduating from a 5k program to one that prepares for a half-marathon.

I vividly remember one Saturday morning when the head coach excitedly told us we were going “downtown” the groans from other runners told me this wasn’t going to be as fun as she made it sound.

Later that week I jokingly wrote a Facebook post about “running every hill in Winston” which prompted the head coach to comment with the words “every hill?”. I never wrote anything about the hills again in fear she would make me pay for it 🙂

The truth is our routes were purposely made tougher than the toughest course any race can throw at us. In particular our coach went out of her way to include as many hills as possible.

Of course there is a method to the madness since our training on ridiculous hills makes what other races call a “hill” seems more like a bump in the road. This is why we often refer to hills as opportunties

This different name sort of gives a new perspective on the painful hill because it’s viewed as an opportunity to become stronger. It also focuses the mind on a future event (being strong on race day) instead of the pain in that moment.

In the same way James in verses two and three encourages Believers to view trials as opportunities to become stronger.

The word “trial” in James 1:2 and “test” in 1:3 have almost the same meaning. “Trial” in the Greek is literally interpreted “putting to proof” and “Testing” is interpreted as “trial, trying.” So this would be an experience that tests an individual, or proves what kind of person they really are. In most cases this would involve a temptation to rebel against God, or frustrating experiences.

James asks the believers to be joyful (have sheer joy) when these painful things come because it develops steadfastness-literally interpreted “endurance.” So he is saying just like the hills in training build physical endurance (strength) the painful experiences of life build a spiritual endurance (faith in God instead of just getting angry).

Okay so what does this mean for Christians?

You can’t focus on the painful moment

I guarantee you I didn’t share my coaches excitement about running “downtown” that Saturday morning, and I really don’t think the hills where what made her excited either. Instead she looked PAST that day and was thinking about what we WOULD BECOME because we ran downtown.

Even so James encourages us to take our eyes off the pain of that moment in trials, and focus it on the moment our faith will bring great Glory to the name of God.

 

[1]: moved here around the age of eleven

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