“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
In hindsight, it’s easy to see the benefit of our trials. But to “consider it all joy” while in the midst of difficult circumstances… that’s a different story. Yet, James exhorted the believers to do this very thing while in the thick of their problems. Perhaps the secret lies in looking beyond the present to the future: to be thankful for the end result of the circumstance.
James says we are able to consider it joy because we know. He’s not telling his audience to depend upon their feelings, but upon what they know to be true. Rejoicing is a choice we all have to make. Usually we only feel happiness 10% of the time (and even then it is fleeting). The other 90% of the time we need to consciously choose to rejoice. This is possible, as James points out, because of what we know: If we allow it, our trial will help to perfect us, making us more like Jesus.
So if this is really true and we really believe it, we have great cause to rejoice when we face hardships of all kinds.
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness…’” 2 Corinthians 12:9a
I love this verse because it’s so simple, yet profound. It’s one of those verses that is easy to memorize and as a result, pops into one’s mind readily in trying times. It’s a comfort, not only because God has promised His grace is sufficient, but because in this passage we are reminded that the Apostle Paul suffered a great deal in his life. If God’s grace was sufficient for all Paul endured, surely God’s power can be made perfect in our own weaknesses, as well.
I’ve found in my own life that when I have reached a point where I don’t think I can endure any longer, crying out to God and telling Him honestly and openly, “Lord, I’m weak. I’m tired. I’m hurting. I can’t do this…” is so freeing. It’s then that I hear His still, small voice speak the above verse and He fills me with supernatural strength and peace.
Have you experienced this? Meditate upon this verse and hide it in your heart so you will be reminded of His sufficiency the next time you feel weak.
“’So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” Matthew 6:34
I used to be a worrier, but one day God used this passage to open my eyes to the foolishness of fretting. It wastes our time and energy, steals our peace and joy, and negatively affects our loved ones around us.
Jesus wisely asked, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (v. 25). Worrying can take time away from your life, but will never add to it.
What if every time we were tempted to get anxious we talked to God, instead? What if we let go of trying to be in control of every little detail and instead just chose to trust God? Don’t forfeit the incredible peace that could be yours simply by heeding Jesus’ words.
“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22b
It can not get any clearer than that, can it? God promises tribulation here on earth. Knowing this, we shouldn’t be surprised or question Him when things go wrong. Never once does God promise us an “easy” life. But this is one of many passages stating the exact opposite. So next time you face an obstacle, just accept the fact life is hard sometimes.
Yet, note how this verse ends with “the kingdom of God.” If you are His disciple, heaven awaits you. The many tribulations we face here on earth should make us long for our real home. Remember, we’re just passing through.