Here’s an excerpt from the popular and inspiring devotional book, Jesus Calling:
Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me. May 10
James expressed similar thoughts with these inspired words:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work … James 1:2-4
Even if your personal circumstances are pain-free (which is unlikely for most of us), you are likely surrounded by people – at work, at school, in your neighborhood and even at church – who are experiencing trials, pain and troubles. The old advice to young preachers is timeless – “Preach to broken hearts because there is one on every pew.”
A quick reminder of James’ terminology can be enlightening and encouraging:
“Consider” is an accounting term – used to determine whether something is an asset or a liability. How do we evaluate our trials, pain and troubles? Do we typically view them as liabilities? God inspires James to assure us that they can be valuable assets!
“Whenever” not “if ever” is the way James describes the reality of the troubles we experience. Trials are not optional nor are they limited to those living in disobedience to God. In fact, trials are inevitable – even to those in close fellowship with the Lord. We don’t need to be surprised by these experiences, but we will be wise to learn how God wants to use them in our lives.
“Testing of your faith” gets to the heart of what God really wants to do in our lives. So frequently we are inclined to put our faith in anything but God – faith in our jobs, our relationships, our health, our skills, etc. etc. etc. However, faith in God is the only thing that can sustain us.
“Let perseverance finish its work” is a challenge to all of us because when we’re facing trials it’s so easy to be impatient. None of us likes to hurt, and when we do we want to get it over with yesterday! But God is in the process of developing a masterpiece on the canvass of our lives (Ephesians 2:10), and, as someone has said, even though we may not like the discomfort of the ‘brush strokes on the canvas of our lives’ we can’t impatiently ‘jump off the easel.’
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