featured graphic for Neighborhood Church

Weekly message from Neighborhood Church: Welcome difficulty?!

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Sometime back, I was watching a coach encourage his players. One kid was struggling in practice. He was saying the drills were too hard, it was too hot outside, and in frustration blurted out “What’s the point anyway? The other team we are about to face is the best in the league! We have not got a chance!!” The coach could see the difficulty of practice was overwhelming the team and that they were getting discouraged about the upcoming game. So, the coach called to one of his most improved players and asked him to run the field, just one lap. The kid did it with ease. As he came back smiling, not even out of breath, he looked at the coach and asked, “What was the point in that?” The coach then asked his star receiver to go out for a pass and his starting quarterback to throw it to him. They ran the play with incredible ease. They, too, came back with questioning looks on their faces, and as the quarterback handed the ball to the coach said, “How is that going help this Friday night?” Coach pulled up three linemen and asked them to push the training sled 20 yards. The three husky guys smiled, and with a little swagger in their step, walked over to the sled and pushed it with basically no effort. The rest of the team mockingly cheered their efforts because this task took no great effort. Just one of them could have done this with ease. Finally, the team captain spoke up, “OK coach. We don’t get it. What are you trying to get us to see?”

The coach looked at the most improved player and asked when he first joined the team, how much he could run without getting sick. The guy said about half the field. The coach looked at both the receiver and the quarterback and asked how many receptions they made all of their first season. Both looked at each other and said, “None!” One of the linemen beat the coach to the question and said they could not even move the sled their first year. Coach said, “We go through the rigors of practice and yes, it’s tough. Some of you have puked, nearly passed out, and most all of you were so exhausted you about cried.” They all looked at the most improved player and as he noticed the team looking at him, he announced, “Tears of joy, coach!” They all laughed. But coach went on. “We take you through the trials of practice to build your endurance, to bring out your best, and to do well as we face our opponents. So, welcome the difficulty! Now get up and start running until I say stop!!” Coach blew his whistle and the guys started running with a new resolve. That most improved player yelled out, “Tears of joy, guys!”

Yes, life is difficult. Trials and tough circumstances hit us almost every day. Yet there is a choice to be trained by those trials and let them build character like patience, humility, perseverance, and tenacity. Trials also help us sweat out selfishness and squeeze out of us those not-so-favorable characteristics like insensitivity and pride. Many times, we need a coach to guide us. Jesus is willing if we come to Him.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The ‘yoke’ this Bible verse is referring to is a wooden harness that two beasts of burden wore to ‘coach’ them, guiding them as they plow a field. Jesus says it’s not a harsh coaching He provides, but one that still involves work. Yet, it will guide us through the rocky fields of life. The key here is to listen and follow the coach’s lead. When we have a great coach like Jesus, we can welcome difficulty and claim the reality in James 1:2-4. What difficulty are you welcoming today?

Church is a great place to receive that great coaching of Jesus and His Word, the Bible. If you don’t have a church, you regularly attend we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. Our website has all the information you need for times and locations of all our Sunday gatherings. We would love for you to join in. You can also find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.

Seeking to welcome difficulty along with you,