Someone once asked me , “Do you enjoy running every time you go?” I had to stop and reflect for a moment. My answer was, “No, not every time. In fact there are many runs that I don’t enjoy at all. But there are enough moments of joy and peace that I continue to lace up my running shoes and head out.” And now, as I struggle to complete my physical therapy and watch the snow melt, I especially miss the joy of heavy breathing and quickly moving feet.
I believe the same is true for our walk with Jesus Christ. Not every moment is filled with love, joy and peace. In fact our connection to Jesus will also connect us to the suffering and pain in the world. I don’t think God calls us out of the world, but to deeper life in the world, the world he created and redeemed.
For the past ten springs I led a mission trip to Jamaica. Yes, I would spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun and enjoying the surf. But Jamaica is a very poor country and I invested more time in parts of Jamaica that the tourist rarely see, helping to build Habitat for Humanity homes. The work certainly had moments of frustration and discouragement. “What is one house among so many needy people?” Still I knew from years of experience that one house, one life, one testimony can bear witness to the transforming love and power of Jesus. As I listened to Jamaicans, I discovered their patient faith and joy. And those moments of joy keep me going through the tougher times.
Even as I struggle in the present with my lack of running, I am hopeful for the future. I am confident that I will run again with Jesus. I am confident that new international mission trips lie ahead for Resurrection Lutheran Church. Patient trust in God’s mercy will provide the way. “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
What has struggle taught you in your relationship with Jesus?