Reflections on faith in adversity

While doing some research on my sermon for this Sunday (June 26th) based upon James 5:13-18, I came across the following quote in the NIV application commentary on James.  Take a moment to read over this. A couple of lines really stood out to me.

This is from a young lady Hannah More (1745-1833) from England who ended up working with John Newton on the campaign to end the slave trade.

“Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired and in which great characters are formed. It is like a spiritual gymnasium in which the disciples of Christ are trained in robust exercise, hardy exertion and severe conflict.

            We do not hear of military heroes in peacetime, nor of the most distinguished saints in the quiet and unmolested periods of church history. The courage in the warrior and the devotion of the saint continue to survive, ready to be brought into action when perils best the country or trials assail the Church, but it must be admitted that in long periods of inaction both are susceptible to decay.”

A couple of thoughts/questions for us to consider:

1) Have you ever looked at the adversity you are facing as a spiritual gymnasium for the development of your Christian character?  Usually, when I am facing adversity, the thought that my Christian character is being developed is the farthest thing from my mind. I am constantly awestruck at how God will use in and all circumstances in my life to teach and grow me as His child.  Do you have a story that you would like to share on how God grew you in adversity?

2) The courage in the warrior and the devotion of the saint continue to survive, ready to be brought into action when perils best the country or trials assail the Church, but it must be admitted that in long periods of inaction both are susceptible to decay. – While it may be true that some things, once learned, you never forget – it is also true that their are things that if unused for long periods of time do decay. I had never really thought about attributes like courage or devotion being subject to decay, but I can see where extended inaction or even non-substantial action can blunt the edge of these gifts given to us by God. While God doesn’t dull our courage or devotion, our own lack of use or mis-use can dull their effectiveness.

If you have been given the gift of courage or devotion (or any other God given talent) how do you keep it fine-tuned  and ready to use. If your faith is comfortable and your life is uneventful, what do you do?  Is there a way that we can keep these gifts from succumbing to decay?

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