The Upper Room Devotion for Wednesday, September 6, 2023, was written by Patrick Klingaman of Maine.
2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7-8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
James 1:2-8 NRSV
For years I viewed health issues, career setbacks, and other difficulties as frustrating interruptions to the life I wanted. Every time I overcame a tough situation, another one sprang up, slowing my progress. However, God helped change my attitude toward such challenges through an unlikely sport: dog agility. For over a decade I ran alongside Portuguese water dogs through winding courses filled with jumps, tunnels, and other obstacles. In agility competitions, speed is less important than successfully navigating each obstacle.
Both in dog agility and in life, I have learned that what is most difficult can prove most important. And thankfully we do not endure trials alone. Today's reading from James teaches us that perseverance is developed through the testing of our faith during life's trials and is key to making us "mature and complete." It also reminds us that God's guidance is available to all who seek it. Much like my dogs could master difficult agility courses when they sought my direction, I have discovered that I can better handle challenges when I direct my attention toward God. When we keep our focus on God, we can find joy even in life's most unwanted interruptions.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
Patrick's reflection speaks beautifully to our need to trust God during our challenges and obstacles. I invite you to re-read the reflection.
Dear God, help us to see our difficult circumstances through your eyes, knowing that our struggles can help us grow to be more like Jesus. Amen.