“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 so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1:2-4 (NIV)
I think most of us realize that God does not promise us a rose garden when we follow Him. But why does James want us to find joy in our trials, as stated in the verses above? James goes on to explain that trials produce perseverance, which helps us mature in our faith. I think we can understand the theory behind these words, but what does this concept look like in real life, and how does it change our faith?
Before we dig into life with trials, let’s look at our lives during the good times. Think back to a time before COVID came to our country. Restaurants opened regular schedules, and unemployment rates remained low. We could buy toilet paper, and Clorox wipes without limits. And, we attended church in person with live music and singing. During such days, many of us don’t lose our faith, but we might forget God. Moses warned of getting too comfortable in the following verses:
Deuteronomy 8 (NIV); “11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Trials make us more aware of our need for Christ. In desperate times, we pour out our hearts to the Lord. And then we wait and watch for His hand to move. For me, these are the times I am more aware of the nearness of Christ. His presence comforts me, and I find His peace keeps me moving forward. As the pandemic spread, my heart filled with fear for the future, so I sought God. I prayed more often and searched the Bible for His comfort. And God did not disappoint me. James understands this too as he penned these words in James 4:8 (NIV); “Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
As I look back over the trials of my life, I see how through them, my intimacy with God deepened. I sought Him, and God moved closer to me. And, I learned I could trust Him to be with me in all circumstances. So, as the good times return after a trial, I remember to thank God. I appreciate all He provides because I know it could all disappear again tomorrow. Another way problems deepen my faith is through sharing how God provided with others. Paul reminds of this fact in 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV); “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Now, I can understand why James calls us to be joyful in affliction. Difficult times will increase our intimacy with God if we seek Him for help.
In Your Life:
Do you think difficult times increase or decrease your intimacy with God and why? What Bible verses do you rely on when troubles arise in life? How can you share your stories with others to encourage them?
Are you looking for a new Bible study to help you during these difficult times? I think my new book might help you. Finding Faith, Hope, And Love In A Broken World looks at how our faith, hope, and love can be a beacon shining in the darkness that guides others safely to shore. The book is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Faith-Hope-Broken-World/dp/B08T43TVBZ
Are you looking for more inspiration on how to find God in the ordinary events of life? Please check out my blog at https://turningmountainsintomolehills.org/
You can connect with Yvonne via Twitter https://twitter.com/ymmauthor
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Yvonne was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is a wife, mom, and grandmother. However, she is most importantly, a lover of Jesus and passionate about prayer and missions. She is the author of Turning Mountains into Molehills (2017 4RV Publishing), which gives readers a first-hand look at her journey into the mission field. You can connect with Yvonne at www.turningmountainsintomolehills.org
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