My knees begin to wobble with each passing step. Up and up we climb. Head down and breathing heavily, the rock steps appear to continue upwards endlessly. My mind, once filled with ambition to pursue the summit, is now clouded with the physical difficulty of each passing step. Doubt creeps into my thoughts, is it really worth the effort? I stop for a break. I look out across the mountainside and my eyes can’t help but settle on the easy option that so many others have chosen. Maybe I too should have taken the chair lift?
The easy option is always so tempting. It whispers to our inner desire to have what we want, but to avoid the hardship of having to earn it. It is in the simple everyday things that the easy option lures us in. Perhaps it is in choosing to get takeaway instead of going to the effort of making a home cooked meal. Maybe you prefer to be glued to your social media feed rather than taking the time to contact your friends personally. Or perhaps we find it easier to sit in front of the television than to sit and read our bible. These easy options seem harmless enough, but if repeated regularly they will lead to poorer health, shallower relationships, and disconnection from our faith.
In the journey of faith, there is no easy option. There is no shortcut to faith. Faith grows only along the journey as we follow Jesus day by day. Good days and bad days, stormy seasons and sunny, faith grows through them all. The secret to growing in faith is patience. Patience does not come naturally to us. Patience is the exact opposite of the instant culture we live in today. But patience is the chosen path of God.
Let’s be honest, the call to be patient can be infuriating!!! God why don’t I have my dream job yet? Patience. God why do I have this persistent ill health? Patience. God why don’t I have a wife or husband yet? Patience. God why do I struggle to live your way each day? Patience. We want it all to be perfect now, why should we be patient!!!
The reason God requires us to be patient is not just to learn patience. It is because God knows that patience through difficulty is the beginning of a greater journey within us. Paul explained it to the Christians in Rome by saying:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Patience is not a stagnant end point. Patience is not sitting around twidling your thumbs while doing nothing. Patience means faithfully embracing the situation you are in right now and choosing to follow Jesus. It is by our fath in Him that our patience becomes perseverance, by perseverance our strength of character grows, and by the strengthening of our faith our hope in Christ overflows. Our hope in Christ is confidently secured in this:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
So why the uphill journey to faith? It is through difficulty and struggle that God calls us to set our sights higher. To focus our desires not on this life but on the life to come in Christ. Does that mean all of our struggles and hardships will end when we embrace life Jesus way? No. Does that mean that the uphill battle of faith is worth the effort? Yes!
Embrace the journey of daily faith. Just like walking up a hiking trail, the journey is where the birds sing to you from the trees. The journey is where you experience the peace of the stream and waterfall. The journey is where cherished memories and bonds of friendship are formed as your face challenges together. The journey is how you grow in strength in preparation for the onward adventure. The secret to great faith is not bypassing life with a chairlift to the top, it is in the patience to live each day with your eyes focused squarely on Him who is at the top, calling you home.
What situation in your life is God asking you to be patient?
What steps can you take to grow in faith while being patient?