I thought the other morning, “How wonderful life would be without problems!” (And, I’m even on vacation!)
It’s an absurd notion of grand proportion, but one I like to entertain every now and then. I think it has to do with my personality type more than anything else or maybe it’s vocationally related. As a minister, you spend a lot of time helping others work through problems. As one who empathizes greatly with people, I have a tendency to take “part” ownership of the mental anguish people experience working through personal challenges. This is a fault of mine, but it’s a part of who I am. In the midst of the mental battle, the thought of a trouble free life rushes into the picture. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the contemplation of such seems to accentuate and even magnify the negativity of the current problem. Nonetheless, the thought of trouble-free bliss is a mindless escape and may I emphasize “mindless.” Why is that? There’s no such thing as a life without problems. Sorry to burst your bubble! There’s no present day utopia or worry free environment on this earth. Problems, disappointments, challenges, and the like are simply a part of life. What matters most is how you work your way through them. The quality of life isn’t measured on the absence of problems, but by the perseverance in which we handle them.
This trait of perseverance seems to have diminished from our current cultural mindset. People bail, give up, quit, resign, or throw in the towel way too early. I can still remember when I wanted to quit my early football career in fourth grade and my dad wouldn’t let me. He told me I’d signed up for the season and I was going to play for the season. I was going to make every practice and game. On top of that, I was going to play my best and be at my best on and off the field. There was more at stake here – it wasn’t just about enjoying football at the moment. My decision was about integrity and perseverance rather than my personal happiness. Life is often filled with a responsibility for doing some things we don’t want or like to do – regardless we must do them and persevere in the process.
Read what Scripture states about perseverance:
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 2 Peter 1:5-9
It is through perseverance that we gain maturity. Maturity isn’t about book knowledge, but practiced understanding. Remember, God is at work in the problems. Our current challenges prepare us for even greater challenges down the road. Our call is merely to persevere. As you possess perseverance by increasing measure, it will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. The absence of perseverance equates to the absence of victory – you can’t see the bigger picture just a self-view of your current surroundings.
So, what was that about a trouble or problem free life? Do you really want that? Is it really the answer? I say not! Problems and difficulties are a part of life. God grant us the strength and the stamina to persevere through them. May we be found faithful in the problem-riddled journey. It is by perseverance that we will discover our greatest blessing.