The necessity of challenge …

“Daddy, daddy, look at this!”

“Momma, watch what I can do, watch me!”

Come the cries from children who then do the most simple of things as if they had just completed the most complex and challenging feat known to humankind. We respond with great praise, applause, and congratulations, which spurs the children on to attempt even more.

Children respond to the encouragement of their parents, especially to the challenges proffered by moms and dads.

Like the child tottering on two feet as mom helps them to stand, then steps away and challenges them to walk toward her. Those first wobbly steps soon follow.

Like the child who is terrified that dad has taken off the training wheels, but he’s running alongside, holding onto the little bicycle. Or at least he was … he let go! And Johnny discovers he really can ride solo.

Challenge is the greatest of all encouragements, and it’s those challenges that parents provide in our early years that help us to propel forward in life and make our way into it. We grow up from those challenges.

God does the same with us. Like the loving Parent He is, He helps us to develop and grow up in Christ by challenging us in just the right way. He doesn’t abandon us, He’s always just a step away if we need Him, or in case we’re about to fall. But He puts us in situations that challenge us to first crawl, then stand, then walk, and then run the race before us, challenging us to become more and more like His Son, Jesus.

There’s a reason for the challenges in your life …

“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,” James 1:2-4.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world,” 1 Peter 1:6-7.

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17.

How are you responding to the challenges God places or allows in your life? Are you trusting Him, as a perfect parent, to use these challenges to grow you up in Christ?