I can with confidence say that 100% of living souls have problems in their lives. Though life can be fun and beautiful, it can throw many things in our paths including some very ugly things. Life can be difficult and downright dangerous. Today is no different that it was almost two thousand years ago. It has been that way since the dawn of time.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote a letter to his fellow Jewish believers. He knew that they were all facing hardships which included prison and death. I know that my life is not easy (though prison and death haven’t entered it yet). I know that the road is not easy and that I need help along the way. I need to know that there are others in my similar situation, that there is hope, that there is something to fall back on.
James 1:1–4 says
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
Consider it joy??? That sounds crazy. Why would I want to have problems in my life and difficulties? It just doesn’t make sense. But, read on.
“…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Perseverance means to persist or keep going during times of stress or despite obstacles. Well, we all get those in our lives and whether we feel like it or not we obviously are persevering. But what about the testing of my faith part? That is probably one of the most important parts of this.
At this point, pull out that notebook you hopefully started. Now list out all the trials you have been through yesterday.
- Angry co-worker
- Husband forgot a promise
- Daughter was upset and needed calming down
- Rude people
Now add to it all the trials from the past week.
- Nothing going right at work
- Fight with cell phone bill because the company charged double
- Someone gossiping
- Children fighting
- Mother keeps complaining that you don’t call enough
Now go back over the last month and then add over the last year. See all the trials that you have recognized that you face. Believe it or not, each one of these helps develop us and make us stronger in our faith. They do that by showing us that we can survive but also to cause us to lean more and more on our Father.
I once had someone ask why would someone, who supposedly loves us, allow these things to happen just so that we would rely on him more. There are times that we allow our children to complete an action so that they know that they should listen to us. Now, we won’t allow them to step out in front of a moving car because we don’t want them to get seriously hurt or worse. But sometimes we let them go ahead in facing danger, knowing that they will get a scraped knee. They have to learn that Mom does happen to know a few things. God does the same thing. Since He is all-knowing, He already knows the end results of the actions. To use the same example as with our children: If he allowed up step in front of that car, He would know that it was because the car would stop in time or swerve to miss us. Then we would realize that maybe He was right that we shouldn’t do that. I know that as events happen in my life that are not pleasant, I tend to move back and forth with Him. There are times when I run to Him immediately. There are times I hold myself aloof out of anger or attitude. But in the end I realize that even though I pull away, He is always there holding me up when I should have fallen. Hindsight is 20/20. We don’t always see what we should see while we are in the storm. It is only afterwards that we start to see the whole picture.
James continues saying that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
After we go through trials, you can’t deny that you grow a little. You’ve learned a little. You’re a little wiser. You KNOW not to step in front of that car. You KNOW that the stove will burn you if it is on. You’ve learned. Maybe the hard way. But you learned.
I can look back and see how much I’ve changed. Yes, I have an extremely long way to go, but I’ve come a long way. I’m much more mature than I used to be. Now, He’ll have me mature in other areas that need attention.
As we face difficulties in our lives, let’s remember that He is always there and will answer our call. If only we truly turn and call out with ALL our heart. He wants it all and nothing less.
Find Lesson 2 here.