“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
If someone told me that this year the NBA, the MLB, the NCAA Tournaments, all of college sports, and the Olympics were all going to be put on hold, I wouldn’t have believed them. Not in our lifetime, not in our country. It truly is unprecedented.
It’s been humbling to think that our plans are not as set in stone as we may think they are. We may think some plans are up to God but some of our own plans can’t be touched. Think again. Nothing is as firm as we think it is. Nothing but God. This pandemic has deepened my trust in Him. Thankfully in the midst of all the unknown I know there really is Someone so much bigger and mightier who is in control of the universe.
Going through times of fear or disappointment are not easy, but we do know that God will use it to produce perseverance in us. It’s up to us to decide if we are going to use these situations to find joy, knowing that God has a lot of fruit to produce in us as a result. We become so comfortable in the lives we create for ourselves. We often don’t realize all the mini idols we hold in our hearts that we’ve become so accustomed to. It could just be that the most loving thing our God can do is force us to be removed from those comforts. In fact, it would be unloving for Him to allow us to continue in a pattern of always wanting more for ourselves.
In my sophomore year in college, I found myself faced with a surgery and a break-up. It was brutal at the time, but I now realize that God allowed me to go through that time — when I couldn’t play softball and I couldn’t have the person I thought I wanted — so I would find out I really did need Him. If I had everything around me that I wanted, it would have been much harder to come to that realization. Today, I wouldn’t trade that injury for the world, because it was through this trial that God brought me to Himself. He cleared out all the idols in my life to show me who I was without those things. He revealed to me what I placed value in. He produced good fruit in my life.
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul visited Athens. He was so distraught to see that the city was full of idolatry. He told them that though they were religious, they were religious about the wrong things. If Paul walked through our towns and churches, would he say we were religious about being productive, about sports, about perfection or about Jesus Christ? We’re always worshipping something, the question is if the focus of our worship is Jesus or something else.
At the start of the Olympic tour for our national team this year, there was a lack of fruit coming from my life. I wasn’t giving God the space in my life to produce any. When our tour was postponed, I was able to take a step back and realize what I was missing. Getting a chance to take a step back and ask yourself hard questions is a gift.
This year has been one where many face fear of losing jobs, income, health and even their lives or the lives of loved ones. It’s hard to say that this has been a year of good fruit, but I know in some ways it has been. I can’t shake the fact that I’ve heard so many people talking about the fact that they never realized how much they weren’t paying attention to their families, God or things that really matter.
God can bring good out of the hardest of circumstances. Maybe He wants to produce good fruit in you through this trial. Will you allow Him?
— Janie Reed, USA Softball player
Janie Reed is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Janie’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/janie-reed/
If you enjoyed this article, please share: