“Consider it pure joy my sisters and brothers, whenever you experience various trials, that you know the testing of your faith produces endurance.” -James 1:2
I sat with my friend as she spoke of her husband who had died of a sudden heart attack. As she expressed that her tears were certainly those of sorrow and loss, she also stated that they were equally tears of joy.
This friend shared about the many joy-filled events throughout their 45 years together. While many were certainly joyful, a number of the events she described were challenging, and represented struggles they had endured.
Still, she was quick to point out the delight of the Lord they had experienced through the tough times. Although it was difficult to pinpoint such happiness while in the middle of an upsetting circumstance, she and her husband had always managed to trust the hope that came through their relationship with God. This certainly brought them feelings of gratitude.
The Bible says that in this life there will be difficulty. Not one of us is entitled to a trouble-free life. When I feel stuck or weighed down from challenges, even catastrophic events, it seems no forward progress is possible, and I wonder how I can move forward.
In these times I am likely to feel anger, grief, frustration and anxiety. It is as if I am thrust into a season that seems to lack hope. I just want the disruption to be over so that I can move on with my plans. Give me the destination without the journey, because it is so much easier.
The words of James explain how we are called to view our struggles while in difficult seasons: “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance (or perseverance). And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
For me, endurance in my faith and strength for my spirit can be found in literally feeding myself on the word of God. By rehearsing God’s truths, and praying for more of God’s Holy Spirit in my life, this is how I live out the joy of God.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
In the Book of James the author was speaking to the twelve tribes of Israel. The people had been scattered due to years of war and captivity, and they had been waiting for the Lord to rescue or free them. James suggests that as they are experiencing trials and suffering, they should consider it as “pure joy.”
The words of James suggest that God is doing the work of building character in us when we face trials, tragedies, or experience seasons of waiting. Instead of becoming angry or impatient with our circumstances, we may try asking,“What is God up to?” Consider what can be learned from God in this season of sorrows or difficulties.
Amid seasons of testing, it can be an opportunity to walk closer to God, and attend to His plan instead of our own. Focusing on the good things that God has in store for us, instead of the pain and frustration of loss or waiting for better days, opens a pathway for a life of gratitude.
Count it “pure joy” that God is working out something awesome in our lives. Remember that God has not forgotten us, but rather He is preparing us for His great works. Is that not “pure joy” to know that our Father in Heaven is preparing us to carry out God’s great works?
During times of hardship, anxiety or isolation we can be quick to ask “why?” To pray that God will take our circumstances away, means that we may miss an opportunity to find out “what” God has planned.
We are called to spend time consistently studying God’s word, meditating on it, memorizing it and praying habitually. As we connect with God on a daily basis, we are building consistency, and a habit of connection. So you are encouraged to prioritize time with God, our heavenly Papa!
When we stand firm on God’s truths, a strengthened spirit aligned with God’s will, we will likely not be overcome by grief, anxiety or fear. A strong spirit within produces a stronger faith in our heavenly Father. It also creates more capacity to love unconditionally like Jesus.
When we strengthen our spirit, it allows us to speak with authority about our Father in Heaven. So too, it guides our decision making, as well as gives us abundant joy and peace for present times. A strengthened spirit helps us “boldly shine” and gives daily purpose to us. This is the story that God desires to write in our lives.
Questions to consider:
How can I keep a godly perspective during times of struggle or trials?
What is an area needing more of my attention (or faith, study) to grow and shine?
What is one way that I can allow God to use my growth to enrich the lives of others?
Father God, I thank you for not forgetting me in this season of trouble and waiting. Help and encourage me each day by letting me feel your ever real presence with me. Strengthen me so that I may endure and persevere through the trials that I experience in this season. Keep my focus on your plans and not my own. Lord, I place my trust in you, and I know that you have pure joy in store for me. Help me hold your Holy Spirit as a treasure with me for always. Guide me to boldly walk with you claiming joy, no matter the circumstances. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Marla Waldron is a beloved daughter of the Heavenly Father, and a sister, wife, mother, teacher and friend. She faithfully serves in her local church and community by serving in food and clothing banks, taking part in fundraising walks/runs and actively participating in, as well as leading, small group Bible studies for The Dented Fender Ministry. As a public school educator for 35 years she has been privileged to mentor countless beginning teachers. Currently she serves as an Intervention Specialist with Kindergarten students.
Marla is the mother of three grown children, and since her father's death she has taken on the responsibility of caring for her multiple handicapped, 50 year old brother. It is only by the grace of God that she has been able to emerge from some pretty dark tunnels of grief and self doubt in order to step along with God; one step at a time. She has learned how to hang on tight to God's truths and for sure, never expect the ride of this life to be dull. She and her husband live in Ohio.
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