It seems that trials come in herds, charging through a season of our lives. While fighting cancer, the car transmission grinds to a halt, and then a child breaks a leg while skateboarding. Trials often have a domino effect: illness affects income, lost income produces unpaid mortgage, and the dominoes keep falling. When we face a single sizable trial, we may face it with courage, but when trials come one after another, they trample our courage and determination. James speaks of this experience as falling into variegated trials – all types and colors – until the trials encompass us. He also tells us how to handle a barrage of troubles —
CONSIDER IT JOY
I must confess, when trials come thundering down my path, I have a hard time shouting, “Praise the Lord! Here comes JOY!” I just want to find the fastest exit out of the situation. The Message paraphrases James 1:2-4 in this way. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
How do we persevere when we can barely survive? Perseverance is a choice. From where we are standing, it may seem that God has failed us and the trials will trample us, but we stand firm and choose to trust God. As Abraham, we choose to believe and hope when there is no reason to hope (Romans 4:18). This does not mean that if we tack a BELIEVE sign above our kitchen sink and read it every day, we will get the outcome we want. It means that we BELIEVE God loves us and will never leave us as we walk through the trials. Perseverance develops when we choose to trust and accept God’s outcome.
Trials reveal what lacks in our maturity. We may enter trials feeling strong and mature, but testing stretches our faith, disclosing gaps or thin areas of trust. God uses trials to reinforce, complete or fill in these deficiencies in our spiritual life. Choosing to maintain our trust in God builds up perseverance and strength for future trials.
In retrospect I can honestly say I have experienced JOY during some intense trials. I have no desire to go through them again, and I still would have liked a different outcome for some life-trampling trials, but the fellowship I experienced with God enabled me to count them as JOY. Although I have found Joy in walking with God through testing times, you will not see me running to meet tomorrows trials with —
Martha Hawn VanCise©2016 www.signpostsonhightrails.com
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