I like to spend some time during the summer months getting organized for the next season ahead. Once September comes along I find I’m non-stop busy until Christmas. If I don’t do some planning I get overwhelmed when the rush comes. So I’ve been doing some reading on being more productive at work. I want to be productive and engage in meaningful work but sometimes it also means hard work and difficult circumstances.
What was the most productive time of your life? Can you think of a period of time when you experienced great productivity and perhaps great personal growth? I bet as you look back there is a sense of satisfaction as to what was achieved and what was accomplished. I also bet that, given the choice, you wouldn’t want to go through it again.
Our growth, our productivity, often comes in times of pressure, hardship and opposition. When I think about the international moves our family has made I know they were challenging but also brought growth. There is a sense that we are stronger and have achieved something that we would not have it we hadn’t jumped into living overseas. We grew through some very hard trials.
Our personal and spiritual growth often comes in those difficult times; the breaking of long-term relationships, the death of a loved one, changing jobs, losing a job, health issues and illness, or difficult financial times. None of us ever wants to enter those periods but when we emerge we know that God has used those times to enrich and build us. It seems so counter-intuitive.
I often say that the Kingdom of God is the upside-down kingdom. The easy-going times are times for coasting but the difficult times are times for growth and productivity. You can get very good at lifting a five pound weigh but you won’t grow muscle until you add some new weigh and struggle to lift it.
So James writes: Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For 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 strong in character and ready for anything. (James 1:2-4)
As crazy as it seems joy can come in the midst of difficult circumstances and hard times. That’s because joy that comes from God isn’t based on our surroundings but rather on our relationship with him. Because we know him, because he loves us, because he is in control – we can have deep seated joy in the storm. We just need to remember he is present.