Everything is Training for The Next Thing
...So consider trials a joy to encounter
The national average cost of personal training is $40 to $70 per hour.
The cost of being trained as a Marine on Paris Island is your whole life.
Training is expensive, so why do we run from it when it comes in the form of hardship? It is free training for whatever is to come next. God says that hardship faced with joy moves us towards becoming perfect.
James 1:2-4 says
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
This is one of the first verses I memorized as a young teenager, and it has been written deep in my heart over decades of pain.
I learned to condense this ideal by reminding myself when things were hard, that everything is training for the next thing. That at a very minimum, God had placed me in hard circumstances to train me for something more difficult, or with bigger stakes.
When I have managed to be mindful of it, it has served me well.
In 2007 I wrote about the blessing that my son’s vaccine injury had been to me. Keep in mind, it is the worst thing that has happened to me in my life, and I would give my life to undo it. But in seemingly bottomless grief in his harm and our loss, where I tried to have joy in being given a difficult trial, three years in, this is what I was able to say. It:
“lays the ground work for God to be able to make you into a person who really knows Him and understands the world the way that He does.
The Corps has to strip away much of the man that showed up on their door step before they can build a Marine. My first three years as the parent of an injured child have been a spiritual Paris Island. I am having the crap in my life stripped away by trying things based on the old paradigm, failing and having to go back and relearn the basics.
It has brought me back to a faith in God that I have not known in 15 years. A more child like faith that was less concerned with how I appeared and more concerned with just trying to learn from God how to get it right. His ‘Right’, not the world’s right. It is a faith that is removing my independence and accomplishments and taking me back to the dependency and instability that I knew when I first met Jesus. As I am pushing forty, I am learning how little I really know, how weak I really am, and how much the smallest thing that I give to God really counts.
And God has used my son to do it.
THAT is the blessing of the disabled child.”
At 53, I can look back and see how considering “joy” the now seemingly small, tearful heart breaks of a 13 year old girl, prepared a 22 year old to get back up off the mat after being knocked down, which in turn prepared a young disability mom to “fall down seven times, get up eight,” which made a middle aged woman who was willing to, with knees literally knocking, walk into a room of people who did not like her and hold her ground, knowing full well she was going to get punched in the face for it, who became an aging woman who speaks truth to power, and refuses to comply, with little fear of worldly consequences.
All this while being the same person as that easily heart broken girl who still has to thank God for hardship through tears of grief.
Because “hope differed makes the heart grow sick”. Proverbs 13:12
So we grieve the hardship and know that God has brought it to our doorstep to give us the opportunity to obey him in our hardship, and become stronger, more perfect, and more wise.
Which brings us to the next section of James 1. Verses 5-8
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. 6 But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.”
If we are willing to look at hardship as training, take joy in God’s love for us, appreciate his use of us for his purposes, value his stretching us so we become strong, and believe that he will make us wise in the process, he promises us he WILL make us wise.
Are things hard now? Have you suffered loss? Do you believe that more difficult times are ahead?
Because more difficult times ARE ahead.
So, “embrace the suck.”
Grieve the loss. Decide to take joy in God’s undending love for you. Understand that he wants to train you up to for mental, emotional, and spiritual warfare. Thank him for the free training. Get up off the mat. Determine that you will obey God no matter the personal cost. Ask him for wisdom in understanding the challenge in detail from his point of view. Know that he will give you that wisdom. Know that rising to this challenge will prepare you for the next one.
Because everything is training for the next thing.