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Embracing Obstacles

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:2-8 (NRSV)


For years Patrick Klingaman, from Maine, viewed health issues, career setbacks, and other difficulties as frustrating interruptions to the life he wanted. Every time Patrick overcame a tough situation, another one sprang up, slowing his progress.

However, God helped change his attitude toward such challenges through an unlikely sport: dog agility. For over a decade Patrick ran alongside Portuguese water dogs through winding courses filled with jumps, tunnels, and other obstacles. In agility competitions, speed is less important than successfully navigating each obstacle.

Both in dog agility and in life, Patrick has learned that what is most difficult can prove most important. And thankfully we do not endure trials alone. Today's reading from James teaches us that perseverance is developed through the testing of our faith during life' s trials and is key to making us "mature and complete." It also reminds us that God's guidance is available to all who seek it. Much like his dogs could master difficult agility courses when they sought his direction, Patrick has discovered that he can better handle challenges when he directs his attention toward God. When we keep our focus on God, we can find joy even in life's most unwanted interruptions.


Prayer: Dear God, help us to see our difficult circumstances through your eye, knowing that our struggles can help us grow to be more like Jesus. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.


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