There are lots of hard statements in the Bible. Verses which challenge and stretch our logic to the nth degree. Passages which turn the world’s view of things on its head and force us to look at life through a different set of lenses.
James 1:2 is one such statement; a statement which for me has always been difficult to accept at face value:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
What has always been a stumbling block when I read James 1:2 is the idea of facing trials in life with an attitude of joy. It seems absurd and almost unnatural in a way. When life is difficult and problems are in front of us, the last advice we need is to be joyful. In my selfish nature, I want to have the pity party and “woe is me” attitude if I want to! *insert “humph” and foot stomp here
But somehow joy is the outlook God intends for us to have as set apart men and women in Christ. Somehow it is joy that must mark us in a world in which joy is not readily apparent. Could it be there is a deeper meaning as to why? Yes and as we read on, we find out more:
“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.” James 1:3,4
These trials we face are really a testing ground for our faith; an opportunity for the Lord to take us deeper in trust and dependance upon Him and not ourselves. And in going deeper, we are working towards maturity and growth in Christ. Growth often comes at a price and that price is our safety and security (i.e. giving up a life without difficulty).
I don’t know what you might be facing as you step into this new year. A loss of employment, a financial crisis, grief over a lost loved one, a terminal diagnosis, a wayward son or daughter…the list could go on and on. But what I do know is this: God doesn’t waste an opportunity whether good or bad. Every trial is put in your path for a reason and ultimately, that reason is to draw you closer to the Lord and for Him to be glorified through the process.
In my almost 40 years on this planet, I realize that I no more relish problems in life now than when I was younger. But I have started to gain perspective and when I look at more seasoned men and women of the faith I am taught and led by their example. As I have watched them face trials and allow the Lord to refine them, it has given me hope to know that God does not abandon His own.
My encouragement for you today is to stay bold in your faith; to be unmovable and unshakable in your walk with the Lord. Allow God to take you through whatever road lies ahead. Do not neglect your time of prayer and Scripture daily. Look for those mentors and mature Christians who can be a guide for you, perhaps even meet with you and uphold you in prayer.
As Christian brothers and sisters let’s not walk through 2017 alone! I’d love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). Be blessed!