By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

When we face a struggle, it can feel like we’re alone. We can vent or unload to a friend about what is going on but often be left feeling they just don’t understand.

Sure, a rodeo or ranch friend can understand and sympathize with having to sit out events or work because of a bust femur, but it’s harder for them to appreciate the struggle when the steel rod that was needed isn’t set right, there’s an infection and the down time has now increased because of a second surgery. Meanwhile, the bills are piling up and the friends that helped with some meals have got busy with their own lives. Far more than anyone can understand, the struggle you’re facing is very real and very difficult.

The same can be said when, as believers, we’re fighting to overcome a sin in our lives but we keep falling back into it. The rodeo lifestyle in particular floods us with opportunity to party hard and make the terrible choices that go along with that from cheating on a wife or girlfriend to finding ourselves in need of rehab while rodeo fines have piled up and there’s no way to pay entry fees anymore.

First, when it comes to what are referred to as trials in the Book of James, we see from James himself both an understanding of the struggles a person can face whether in his time period or ours and he offers and encouragement.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

This can be really hard for a person to accept and a difficult attitude to adopt when you’re in the thick of trial or struggle but James is offering us an assurance that we can try to see it as a good thing and take joy in it because that struggle will be used to help build us to be more like Jesus. When we have a saving faith in Jesus, we begin a process called sanctification which means that our lives become about making us more like him. While we will never become fully perfect before we get to Heaven, we will become more and more like Jesus as we learn from the Bible, live out what we’re taught and grow in our faith.

In that process to become more like Jesus we find there are sins in our lives we want to rid ourselves from and Hebrews offers a great encouragement for those particular struggles.

Hebrews 4: 15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus is the high priest being referred to here and what we see is just how great a company we keep as Christians—followers of Christ. Jesus himself, even though he was perfect, still faced temptations and God loves us so much and understands the struggle, that through our saving faith in Jesus, we have God’s grace and mercy for when we fail and to give us the confidence and encouragement to get up again and press onward each time we feel like we’ve fallen.

 Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] 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.

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