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. (James 1:2-4)
This verse frustrates me. To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with it.
When I am in a place of calm, this verse reminds me of battles I’ve been in and how God grew me through them. I read it with a sense of peace and thankfulness that He loves me enough to give me more tools for my toolbox.
When I am in the thick of oppression and angst and the weight of my struggles are bearing down on me, this verse seems daunting. It asks too much from someone like me. In my attempt to justify it, I see it as something only a spiritual icon like Beth Moore or Billy Graham has the ability to do.
But that’s not true.
According to James, this is sound advice for all of us. He is suggesting we look at our circumstances in a different light.
We are being challenged.
He is asking us to see our hardships as opportunities for growth rather than reasons to complain.
- Does this mean we cannot honestly process with a friend? Not a chance.
- Does this mean we should ignore the pain and put a smile on our face? No way.
- Does this mean we can’t cry out in frustration and pain to God? Nope.
Sisters, we shouldn’t suppress our emotions or pretend to be happy.
Instead, we should look on these difficulties with expectation because God tells us they are gifts.
Wow, seriously? And just how are trials and tribulations a… gift?
- Because they prove our faith authentic by showing us who we are (and sometimes who we aren’t).
- And their bi-product is a deeper maturity in our walk and the wisdom that comes with that.
Sisters, just like our moms taught us to do when we receive a gift, our response to the Giver should be “Thank you.” You see, God uses every bit of the difficult circumstances we face in our lives to make us more complete… more Christ-like.
And THAT is the best gift we could ever hope for.
Father, this is a hard concept to grasp. It goes against everything in my flesh. I ask that You give me a greater understanding so I can see my difficult circumstances as gifts rather than opportunities to complain. Lord, I want Your best for me. Thank You for promising to continue working in my life and for not giving up on me. I trust You with my life and my journey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.