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How adversity can strengthen faith

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Most of us now use some form of social media for everything from its messaging applications and how it allows us to keep up with friends and family to promoting the organizations or interests that we’re involved in.

We use the applications to promote our rodeos and Western events, to celebrate our buckle wins and even to complain about judging or something that went wrong at a venue. We also use it to share videos of our rides and to search for posts with advice from horse trainers.

Many of the applications have complicated algorithms that require more and more “likes” and “shares” in order for the content to reach more of the people we’re already connected with.

Recently, the applications began experimenting with not showing the “likes” that content is receiving in a large part because of the anxiety it causes people who see others getting more “likes” than them.

It’s part of a growing trend that bucks the traditions of the Western lifestyle that encourages us to learn from struggles, learn from hands-on work and learn from mistakes.

Instead, we are trying to protect people, especially our young, from what is perceived as unnecessary stress or worry.

But for Christians, there is a different way of looking at hardship.

The Bible, throughout the Old and New Testament, offers teaching that tells us not to worry.

Look at just these verses: 1Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you; and Luke 12: 22-23 - Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

In them, we’re being plainly told not to worry.

We’re repeatedly told to trust God to care for our needs, and that means needing to go against our nature to worry and stress about finances, the people we care for or even our health.

And we’re also told to expect troubles and trials. We understand that they are a part of our life but that God will do something with them.

James 1:2-4 tells us this: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

We need trials to grow. To try to eliminate as much stress and worry from our lives is to miss out on an opportunity to learn to trust and rely on God and to allow him to work inside us to make us stronger people, more like Christ.

There’s a balance to be found between letting stress and anxiety cause us unnecessary worry while needing to endure struggles that can cause those feelings in order to grow closer to Christ. Scott Hilgendorff is the pastor for Cowboys of the Cross, a rodeo/bull riding ministry that leads cowboy church services and maintains an online presence to make disciples among the ranch and rodeo community.