“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.
“…when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10b
If anybody was “tried,” it was Job! We’re not really told how long Job’s suffering lasted, but it was probably quite a while because he went through moments of despair- the same kind the chronically ill experience. But at one point Job looks beyond his present pain to the future when this trial will finally be behind him. He is encouraged by the fact that he is being purified and cleansed through his circumstances. If you read the whole of chapter 23 you will see his glimmer of hope is short-lived because his complaints continue, but what if he had clung to those words? “I shall come out as gold.”
What are you fixing your eyes on, today? Are you too distracted by your current experiences to see how they might be purging your inner life, chiseling away the dross and forming you into Christ’s image? Don’t give in to self-pity. Instead, cling to the words of one who suffered much: “…when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
“I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!” Psalm 138:2
David knew God personally. And because he knew God’s character so well, he was passionate about worshipping Him. Yes, David experienced great hardship throughout his life, yet his relationship with the living God sustained him.
What about you? Do you truly know God, or just about Him? Do you spend most your time thinking about yourself and your circumstances or do you meditate upon God’s Word and His attributes?
Spend time getting to know the One True God, meditating upon His character, resting in His presence. The more you do this and the less you mull over the difficulties in your life, the more you will be drawn to worship Him the way David did.
“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
Do you view God’s Word to be as vital to your health and well-being as eating food daily? Jeremiah consumed God’s words as though they were his daily sustenance. As a result, they became for him “a joy and the rejoicing of [his] heart” (AMP). Have you found this to be true in your life? Or is reading God’s Word a drudgery and just something you do out of force of habit? Or perhaps your Bible is just like any other book on your shelf, merely sitting and collecting dust?
I’ve experienced all three throughout various seasons of my life. I think that prayer coupled with reading the Word makes all the difference. Jeremiah had a vibrant relationship with God in which he prayed often and heard from God often. If we first seek God in prayer, asking Him to speak to us and reveal things to us, and then open His Word we are far more likely to glean whatever it is He wants to teach us through it. This is when His Words become a joy and delight.
Ask God to open your eyes to the wonderful things in His law today (Psalm 119:18) and then read it, meditate upon it, and obey it.
“In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.” 2 Corinthians 7:4b
How could Paul be overflowing with joy in the midst of his suffering? It sounds like an oxymoron. Yet, this is not the only time the Scriptures associates pain or suffering with joy or rejoicing.
Here Paul explains his reason for joy: the fellowship of the brethren (Titus) and the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Corinthians. These two things made his afflictions worthwhile. And rather than focusing his attention on his hardships, he focused on the good things that were taking place. I doubt his struggles became easier to endure, but his perception changed, which positively affected his emotions.
Think about the good things God has allowed in your life and dwell on those this week rather than fretting about every little nuisance. Allow joy to well up inside you as you praise God for the ways He is working, even for that which you cannot see.
As my Sunday School class has learned, “to rejoice is a choice!”
“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Lamentations 3:38
To me, this truth is a comfort. To know that God is completely sovereign over all that happens gives me great peace of mind. I’m thankful that no calamity comes as a surprise to Him and that He never wonders to Himself, “How am I going to fix this mess?”
He has ordained all of our days and has a purpose and plan for all that takes place in our lives. We may not like all of it and we may not understand all of it, but praise God that He sees the bigger picture and knows best.
Cease striving to understand “why” things happen and just trust God to carry out His perfect will in your life.
“‘I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’” John 16:33
God’s peace is indescribable. Probably the most common remark one makes after conversion is, “I have such a peace I’ve never experienced before.” The reason it’s so noticeable is because we were made to be vitally connected to God and our hearts yearn for something we know-not-what. Until we’ve finally been reconciled to God, we strive in vain to fill the empty void within us and to face the world’s tribulations alone. Once God has redeemed us, we are set free from fear and we cease striving and worrying. Jesus has overcome this world filled with hardships, so whom shall we fear?
The Apostle John says in 1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.” What a comfort! Yes, we will go through hard times. But our God is greater than any set-back; greater than anything we face in life. No wonder we as God’s people experience such peace! Take heart today that Jesus has overcome the world.