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Finding Joy In The Junk

2 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Matthew 5:4

At the beginning of the year I made the decision that after nearly forty years that I would start doing judo again.  I eagerly enrolled at our local YMCA to begin the Saturday afternoon classes.  Having nearly forgotten all that I knew from the time I took judo as a kid; I started all over from the beginning.  It's funny, as a 10-year old I don't think that I had as many aches and pains as I do now as an adult.  Those first few weeks were simply brutal.  I think my body parts decided to take turns in which one would have pain. I have to confess the first few weeks required ice packs and ibuprofen.  There were a few times when I thought to myself, “I think I am getting too old for this”.  I even though about quitting a couple of times, however, I stuck it out.  As I kept going I noticed that the aches and pains were becoming less; not that they have ever completely gone, but they are becoming less.  I have even got promoted a couple times.

I think that perhaps our spiritual walk can be a bit like that judo class.  We often have some bumps, bruises, aches and pains that come into our life.  Sometimes we have some junk that comes into our lives.  Somehow we have been led to believe that once we become Christians that we should never experience the junk of disappointments, health issues, financial loss, broken relationships, struggles, or suffering.  However, that is just simply not what the Word of God teaches us.  We are reminded in 1 Peter 4:13 and Romans 8:17 that we share in Crist's suffering if we are partners with Christ.  Jesus told his disciples, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Maybe you are wondering, “Why do we have to have junk in our lives”.  I think James does a great job of answering that for us.  James 1:2-4 states, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”.  It is the junk that comes into our lives that builds our endurance, develops us and helps to become mature in our faith.  That is why James tells us to count it all joy when we are dealing with some junk that comes our way.  God can use our Junk to help us have joy in our relationship with Him.  God can use the junk to alert us, direct us, shape us and unite us.

Without those first painful weeks of learning good basic judo techniques I would not have been able to advance and become a better judo student.  I am grateful for all the weeks of judo tumbling and learning break fall techniques.  I am now better and stronger, but I had to endure those hard weeks.  I know that on my way to earning my black belt I will have more bumps and bruises, but that is what takes to be a mature Judo student.

How is God using the junk in your life to bring you into the joy of growing deeper in relationship with Him?  Is He using the Junk of failure, broken relationships, health issues, or finances to direct you, alert you, shape you, or unite you with other believers.  Today count it all joy as God uses your junk!