James 1:2-4 New International Version (NIV)
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Real Talk. In the past, when I was in the midst of a trial, I would read over this scripture and think... joy? How am I supposed to consider what I am walking though as “pure joy?” However, with some reflection, I have begun to gain a better understanding of this scripture.
Every trial has taught me, has stretched me, has made me a better person and certainly closer to whom God created me to be. Has it been a cake walk? Hell NO! Have I wanted to throw in the towel and walk away from my faith? Yes! Thankfully, I have learned the lesson of steadfastness. I have learned to ask the Lord to hold my hand and give me the wisdom and strength needed to learn how to persevere. I have asked the Lord, many times, to increase my faith.
The gift of trials has allowed me to truly understand and have compassion for others who walk through similar times and heartbreak. Trials have taught me what is truly important and the meaning of joy. Not happiness, but the pure joy that comes from walking and trusting the Lord, no matter what.
Being poor, taught me to trust the Lord to provide for me.
Being cheated on, taught me that the Lord alone is faithful.
Being disappointed, taught me not to rely on things of this world.
Being sick, taught me to trust that God is Sovereign, and His ways are not my ways.
Being corrected, taught me that I am truly a daughter of God.
Being a sinner, taught me what grace and forgiveness truly are.
Being anxious, taught me to seek the Prince of Peace in all things.
Being afraid, taught me to dig deep into the promises from the Lord.
Being abused, taught me about the healing power of the Lord.
A trial can and will absolutely test your faith. Testing of faith leads to perseverance. Perseverance…steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Sometimes that steadfastness is trusting God no matter what your circumstances look like. Sometimes, perseverance is being obedient when you don’t feel like it. Unfortunately, that was a lesson that took me several times around the mountain to learn. It can be very difficult to obey God during trials. We are called to pray for our enemies, forgive always, and honor God with our behavior and response to others, at all times. Not easy. Especially if you have been hurt.
We are also called to stay in peace and to not let the things of this world steal that peace. This takes a lot of perseverance. Stick-to-it-ness. This takes keeping your eyes on Jesus and believing that he is in control. That he has the final say.
Friends, it is my heart's desire that when you are facing a trial that the journey results in a deeper walk with your Heavenly Father. That is my prayer for you. This is my prayer for myself. What trial are you facing now, where you can say,
"Lord, I don't understand what is happening, but I trust you. When I feel weary and full of doubt, be my strength to help me persevere"? What trial, are you facing where you can choose to obey God even when it feels impossible to do so?
Finally, dear readers, being broken hearted taught me what the presence of the Lord feels like, and it feels like joy, and when you are in the presence of the Lord… you are lacking nothing. Nothing at all.