The posts in response to the retreat I went on a couple of weekends ago have been straightforward up to this point. This one might turn out to be a little more abstract.
As humans on this earth, we all go through struggles and trials. You might think that those who are born into a life of privilege are not susceptible to difficulties that you have had to go through, but that does not mean that they have struggles of their own. One thing I learned from spending a couple of days away with a couple of friends is that we all have crap in our lives that we are dealing with on a daily basis.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 ESV
Other versions use the words perseverance or endurance in place of steadfastness, but the idea is the same. You have to face opposition if you want to grow as you strive to finish. Take working out at the gym for example. Why do people pay so much money to work out at health clubs? They go to the gym so that they can use equipment that gives them resistance. Sure, some of them just want to sit in the steam room or hot tub, but chances are that they got memberships because they wanted to get into or stay in shape.
God is continually shaping us into the person He designed us to be. Just like a father guides his son to respect women and live with integrity, God guides us to become perfect and complete through Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit. If the testing of your faith brings perseverance which leads to being made perfect and complete, then you can be filled with hope for what God has promised you.
Going back to the weight lifting metaphor, the renewing of strength is a result of the trials and hardships that you endure. Without some form of resistance, your muscles will atrophy and become weak. If your life is easy and you are not facing anything that pushes you back, then your faith can likely atrophy and become weak in the face of anything bigger than yourself.
So when you are facing trials and difficulties, you should “count it all joy,” because you have something to hope for. The strength of your faith is being renewed and built up. God has a promise for you, and your job is to keep pressing forward towards that promise.