Muscles are pretty amazing if you think about it. The way people and animals are all strung together to allow us to move and function is pretty fascinating. I always used to laugh at birds that stood on one leg because I thought they must get really tired. I tried it as a child, and I thought birds must be crazy.
Even though people weren’t really designed to stand around on one leg, I guess if you spent a lot of time practicing, you could do it. That’s what’s cool about our muscles. If you train them in a particular way, they’ll allow you to do just about anything. You can train them to remember certain repetitive actions. You can train them to be stronger. You can train them to be bigger. But all of that training takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Today’s verse is James 1:3.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
Faith is a muscle. Did you realize that? Maybe it’s not like a bicep or a trapezius or a gluteus maximus, but it’s still a muscle. And it still needs to be trained if you want it to get stronger. If you work at it and train it, your faith gets stronger. But if you leave it alone and never use it, it will atrophy, just like any other muscle in your body.
Okay, so how do you train your faith muscle?
James 1:3 says it. Your faith has to be tested.
If everything in your life goes the way you expect, you have no need to have faith. Faith is believing something you know to be true even if you don’t feel like it’s true. It’s a conscious decision to believe something even if other people don’t believe the same thing.
Example: I believe God works all things together for the good of His children.
That can be disputed. Other people don’t always believe that a statement like that is true. How do you prove it? Well, you have to believe it and you have to keep believing it even if your life is spiraling out of control. By continuing to believe this concept (which is backed by Scripture, Romans 8:28), even when your circumstances dictate otherwise, you are exercising your faith muscle. And when God shows you that He really is working things out for your benefit, the next time a trial or a struggle comes your way, it won’t shake you. Because your faith muscle is strong enough to understand that God is in control and He knows what He’s doing.
Good, solid faith doesn’t happen overnight, just like becoming a sculpted muscular body builder doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It takes training. It takes testing. If your life is easy and you are never challenged, how will you ever learn? How will you ever grow?
Granted, there are some opportunities for growth in listening to the stories of other people, but honestly, you won’t grow as a person until your faith is challenged, until you have to make the choice to keep believing something even when no one else around you does.
I want to have unshakable faith. I want to have the kind of faith that doesn’t falter or waver in the face of any obstacle, no matter how big or how frightening it is. But to reach that point, I can’t hunker down and stay safe. I have to race out and meet danger head on and trust that God is taking care of me and that He will provide an avenue for escape or a means of protection.
Faith is just like any other muscle. If you work it hard enough, it’s going to hurt for a little while, but once that pain of disuse fades, it will be stronger than before. And you’ll be able to withstand heavier and heavier loads for longer periods of time. That’s endurance. And in this crazy, messed up, broken world, endurance is something we all could use a little more of.