Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
What is your first response when you face a trial? Some people run away from the challenge. Others embrace the challenge, knowing that something good is about to happen.
My buddy Jerrod Watson is one of those guys who runs into the fire. He coached high school football for more than two decades and continues to teach and train middle schoolers. He’s the kind of coach you don’t forget. One of his former players recently graduated from West Point. When he came back home for Christmas after his first semester at the academy, he said it really wasn’t that bad. Watson had prepared him. His mission, now that I think about it, was to prepare young men to run into the fire.
I was going through one of my own tough seasons a few years ago, and a Tom Petty song came on the radio. I smiled and thought of Jerrod when I heard, “You can stand me up by the gates of hell. But I won’t back down.” He had used that line for one of his pre-game talks. He used a few other lines over the years that probably won’t make it into the blog.
But Jerrod also has a heart for the least of these that run the halls at school, the kids that get picked on and ignored. And he has a heart for his friends. He’s called me a few times, during some tough times, just to check on me. Meant the world.
When the virus hit and everybody had to shelter in place, that meant schools and weight rooms were closed. No place to work out. What’s the first thing Jerrod did? Whine and complain? No. He started posting workouts online and invited people to join him. Now he’s inviting the community to join him in a run/walk mileage challenge.
This might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. It’s the type of thing we need right now.
James, the younger brother of Jesus, was no stranger to trials. He was one of the heroes of the early church who would be executed for his faith. He stood up for the rights of the poor and taught us that faith, without some real action behind it, is dead.
James was more of an on-the-job-training type of teacher, than a philosopher or theologian. The experience of pain, suffering, and trials can be our best teacher. Lessons can be learned. Faith grows when you put it into practice. What you believe matters, of course. But what you do with what you believe—especially when the tough times come—proves how much your faith really matters.
As we go through this trial together, we all have the chance to add some more grit to our faith. But we have to look up and look out to see the opportunity. The more that I look to Jesus, the more that I can see He has something important for me to do to help somebody who needs what I have to offer.
Don’t waste this moment. God has somebody for you to help today. Don’t overthink it.
Father, forgive me for whining and complaining. Help me to help somebody today.