"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" James 1:2-3 (ESV)
It's interesting that I can recall several cliché expressions and points of view that basically revolve around "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger". An idea that failure or persecution can toughen you up if you learn from it the right way.
However, what stands out to me in the verse above is that 3 letter 'j' word ... joy. We should count these trials as not just learning experiences, or events that build strength, but we should count them as joy. Not "when you look back on them be thankful" ... but when we "meet" these trials (present tense) we should count it as joy.
If that's not a challenge against the flesh I don't know what is. I don't know about you but my reaction to a tough situation is rarely if ever joy. However that’s a reason, not an excuse; and I don’t plan to ignore this challenge placed before me. Christ has changed me in ways that are not even describable, and it’s just been getting better and better. The junk doesn’t stop getting thrown at me, but it sure sticks a lot less! Next step is to turn the junk into joy … it isn’t going to be quick or easy, but I have a feeling this fruit tree is going to be one of my favorites!