The Upper Room devotional reflection for Sunday, January 8, 2023, was written by Stuart Stein of South Dakota
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5 NRSV
As I stood near the top of a mountain near Lake Tahoe, California, my hands were shaking. My fingers felt numb, and my teeth began to chatter. At mile 22, I had submerged underwater as part of a 30-mile obstacle course race, and the wind blowing into my face caused my wet hair to freeze. My mind was spinning. I can’t do this. I need to quit. Others were feeling the same effects, but they kept pushing forward. Up ahead I could see an emergency vehicle. Though continuing might mean a fulfilling accomplishment, I had to quit. The comfort of the medical tent felt amazing. But that feeling was quickly replaced with shame, embarrassment, and frustration.
Jesus knows our challenges and can help us use our setbacks to reshape our life’s trajectory. He allows our most disappointing times to serve as catalysts for greatness. I was faced with a critical decision on that mountain, and I needed to decide: Would this be my last race, or would I learn from my failure to properly prepare my body and mind for the next? Choosing the latter allowed me the opportunity for redemption. Crossing the finish line, the following year was an incredible feeling and taught me a great lesson – all to God’s glory!
Take an opportunity to reread Stuart’s reflection and be encouraged that God is always available to help us overcome our setbacks.
Dear God, help us to embrace the challenges that come our way and to see them as opportunities to place our faith and trust in you. Amen
-- Stuart Stein