Here is one very holy character attribute that I hear very few Christians pray for: courage.
Think about this for a moment. How many prayers do you pray, and/or how many prayers do you hear from others that resound with this outcry to God: "Give me courage, O God, to get through my trouble."? Usually the prayer of those in a tight spot is filled with themes of rescue and deliverance; comfort and peace. Rarely, though, do I hear today's Christians in our culture pray for courage to stand... courage to endure... courage to persevere... courage.
For you and I to be developed in our trust in God and His power, we need courage, not deliverance. We need to be carried through our circumstances, not delivered from them. You can't know the miraculous power of God to fill in the gaps of your strength unless you are in a really tight spot that you can't navigate without Him.
This is not a comfy-cozy message, I know. But if you and I can grasp this concept, even for a millisecond, then we will fully understand James who said this: James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Every admirable person of the Biblical stories is a person who endured great difficulty with courage, and, thereby displayed unspeakable joy and determination in the midst of that difficulty.
Right now you are likely facing some sort of difficulty. Do you want to get out of it, or do you want to get through it? God is not an overprotective parent that ensure we never skin our knees. God wants our character developed into that of Jesus whose very life was a story of courage in the midst of difficulty. Jesus lived a difficult life and died a difficult death. He also lived a courageous life and died a courageous death. Why? Trust ... love ... peace ... perseverance ... surrender ... determination ... obedience ... sacrifice ... courage.
Once courage is fully developed, you will find that you are willing to actually walk into unthinkable solutions with confidence because of the tests you previously passed through. There is no shortcut to this. There is only the navigation of the difficult with great courage that develops the character of Christ in us.
Don't give greater weight to your difficulty than to Christ. Lean into Jesus who endured courageously and pray for courage to pass the test of endurance. Then you're on your way to being complete and lacking nothing.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.
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