By Jenny Heafey
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Read: James 1
Have you ever questioned God? Questioned Him about why things happen—even bad things? Questioning Him as to why He can’t just fix our problems. After all, He is the Creator of the universe. Clearly, He can do anything, so why doesn’t He just take His supernatural remote control, point it at our personal situations, press the fast forward button, skip over the bad, and press play when it’s all over? Have you ever felt that way? I know that I have.
We can’t speak for God—only He knows. But there is hope and even joy through the darkest of times. Let’s shift our focus to something else for a moment—like shopping!
You’re at your favorite store and have found this blouse you have wanted for a long time. You can’t believe that there is still one left. However, you find a problem. It’s really dirty. A lot of people must have tried it on and there are stains all over it. Still, you decide that you want to buy it because you have a plan. You take it home and spot treat it. When the treatment is all soaked in, you throw it in the washing machine. You turn the dial to hot water and can see the agitation occurring, breaking up all of the stains. Then, you take it out of the washer and voila, the stains are gone and you hang it to dry. A few hours later, the shirt is completely clean but now has a ton of wrinkles on it. In order to make it perfect, you have to iron it out. You turn the iron on high heat and start going over and over the wrinkles pressing hard with pressure. You get done with one side, but as the owner of the shirt, you wouldn’t wear it with only one side completed. So you go over the other side, then the sleeves, and then the collar. Eventually, the process is complete and the shirt is perfect. Similarly, the suffering that God allows to occur in our lives is for a reason, for His greater purpose. Ironing out the wrinkles of our character allows us to become Christ-like.
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a picture of what having a Christ-like character looks like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”
Now, look at Romans 8:17-18: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our current sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Even for the believer, there will be suffering in this life. Often times, we forget that Jesus’ suffering was far greater than anything that we could ever bear. Sometimes, we feel as if no one has ever gone through what we are going through, but Jesus did, and we can find comfort knowing that He also overcame the world. This is the hope that followers of Christ have. This is the hope that we want to introduce to those who have yet to give their lives to Christ. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that in Him we have peace: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Just to know that someday we will never die but have everlasting life with the Father, through Christ Jesus, is worthy of rejoicing and praising God!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Still, the question remains. How can we consider it to be pure joy when we face trials of many kinds?
We still question God as to why He wants us to endure such heartache. Let’s look at 1 Peter 2:24:
“’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”
Living for righteousness on this earth can only happen if we are trained in it. But it’s only when we exercise our faith in God and allow Him, through the Holy Spirit, to build in us a mature and complete nature—to develop a character where we are lacking in nothing and where we can become like Him—like Jesus.
God is trying to complete a work in us so that His plan for our lives is revealed. When we lose faith, when we doubt, when we don’t ask for His wisdom and His guidance, and when we don’t obey Him, we limit ourselves from experiencing His grace, mercy, and restorative love. In His love, we find an unexplainable joy and peace that consumes us. Just as we can’t comprehend why God allows us to go through difficulties, we also can’t comprehend His ability to restore us. His power is beyond our understanding, but through faith, a great harvest of joy will come to us (Psalm 126:5-6).
Faithful Action Challenge This Week
- Have faith. Remind yourself of His Word about who He is and how nothing can champion His mighty power (Genesis 1).
- Trust God to work out all your wrinkles, no matter how hard and painful your circumstances are. Trust Him to get you through; He has had a plan for you before the creation of the world. Let Him finish His plan (Ephesians 1:4-6).
- Submit ALL control over suffering. Do not try to fix it alone; allow Him to. Sometimes, the greatest testament of our submission comes from us pouring love into the lives of others like Jesus did for us on the cross. How can you let His love transcend to others even through your trials (Romans 5:5)?
- Ask for His wisdom and guidance in all things. He will give it freely, without finding fault (James 1:5).
- Obey Him even though you may feel tempted to flee. Meditate on His truths and obey Him with your actions at all times and seasons of your life (Mark 12:30-31; James 1:25).
- How are we to respond to trials and temptations? What are the benefits?
- How can pouring love into others who may be suffering help you through your own circumstances?
- What is needed when one lacks wisdom?
- How will you submit to His will and plan for your life through tough times?
Now go to our Facebook Group to continue the conversation.