Focus: Joy in trials
James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
God is interested in our character development. He wants us to be perfect. Can you imagine that? It’s a painstaking work that seems to never end in this life. It started the day you were born. One of the biggest challenges God has as He works with us—is to teach us ‘patience’. The only way we ever learn it, is by tests and trials. Some people need more work than others before they start to ‘get it’.
Stop and think about any trial you’ve ever had as it relates to patience. Think about the things you’ve had to go through over and over before you learned your lesson. I stopped counting how many times my houses have been flooded with water for one reason or another. From flooded basements, to overflowing tides, to broken washing machines, to a bathroom sink drain plugged by a bouncy ball when the faucet was not turned off completely, to torrential rains intruding the house when we were adding onto our home—and that’s not all of the times—it’s almost a joke at this point. Every time we have some kind of water drama, I have to say, ‘What have I not learned about water?’ After each episode, I hope I passed the test—but somehow they keep happening. The last time wasn’t all that long ago. ‘Please Lord, no more water trials?’
Having water all over the place and piles and piles of wet, soggy towels to wash somehow doesn’t seem like a laughing matter to me—does it to you? Oh, it does later. You can always look back and laugh at ridiculous things like that—but at the time? Not so much.
James 1:2-4 seems to say that we should count it all joy when you fall into various trials…not after they’re over. I can’t say I’m there yet. It’s hard enough just to get through some things that are challenging—much less be joyful in the midst of them. But, the testing of our faith is where patience is produced. So, this must be an important thing for us to get good at.
These verses also refer to the fact that when we get perfect at patience—we will be complete and lack nothing. To lack nothing would be a huge thing to any of us. In the middle of a trial or two—it’s a lot easier to think about what you don’t have—as opposed to what you have. But to lack nothing would be pretty great—so maybe we should be taking this a little more seriously.
It takes practice to get into the habit of remembering to be joyful when you’re faced with a test you don’t want to take. The instant reaction of most people is, ‘now what?’ It’s hard not to be aggravated when those pesky trials come. Who likes going through something hard?
It’s the hardest of all when trials happen at inconvenient times. Well, come to think of it—what trial ever comes at a perfect time? I guess timing is part of the test. For instance, the tidal surge flooding the house on a day when my husband happens to be working a twelve hour shift. Or, the bathroom sink overflowing right after we just put new laminate flooring on the adjoining room that also flooded. Or, the torrential rain flooding our remodel/addition to the house during the one hour we went out to grab a bite to eat. Or, the washer spilling water all over the place at the end of a very long day—just as I was wanting to go to bed. Stuff like that. I could go on…
I’m saying all of this for my own benefit as much as for yours. It actually makes you wince and smile when you think of some of the things in retrospect. It sounds almost comical…almost.
The point is, we need to get better at being joyful when the stuff is happening. Laughing at our situation during the trial—and not letting it go to waste. I can do that with some things. I’m not a total flop. And truthfully, there are trials that have been a whole lot harder than the water sagas. But, the verse says we need to become perfect at patience—and that’s where I’ve got to say ‘I haven’t arrived’.
I do like the concept of lacking nothing, however. You probably do, too. So let’s work on this thing. Let’s try to see humor in our circumstances when the going gets tough. Let’s laugh at the trials that are sent to make us strong and experienced. Let’s recognize trials for what they are. God allowed them to happen to us—and His power can help us through them. It isn’t our power that is going to win any battle we face anyway—it’s HIS.
Declaration: I will find new strength by trusting God’s ability in my times of weakness. I will stop looking at my trials as aggravations and start seeing them as the path to being perfect and complete—and lacking nothing.
All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee as of the date they were written and posted. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog. This material will be published as a book at the end of 2012, by the grace of God.
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