by Teri Lynne
"Not everyone who grow old, grows up. There is a vast difference between age and maturity. There is too much impatience in difficulties. James appeals to us to recognize that every test, every trial, every tribulation with all the accompanying sorrow and disappointment, is a God-given opportunity for growth and development in the Christian life." ~ Dr. Johnny Hunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA
Life's difficulties are often overwhelming ... and there are times when I find myself like the Psalmist crying out,
"Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle." Psalm 28:1-2
Lord, do You hear me? Can You see what is happening? I'm calling out to You ... are You there?
Gently, always gently, the sweet Father reminds me that it is necessary for me to experience these sufferings, these difficulties, even these sorrows. The dark nights are necessary so that I can learn the true beauty of His presence, the magnificence of His provision, the unchanging nature of joy found only in Him.
Again, I'm drawn back to the words of James, the half-brother of Christ,
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." James 1:2.
I wonder how that is possible ... what that means. So I continue reading ...
"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:3 - 4
Through these verses we find that as we pursue joy, as we choose joy, we are rewarded by God with growth.
Life generally brings two kind of "trying."
1. Tests of fire. These are those experiences and situations that are external ... difficult relationships, financial hardships, loss of loved ones and the like. In these circumstances we have the choice ... to be consumed by the fires or to be refined by them. We must remember that God is in control, even in the fires we face.
2. Trials of faith. These are those battles inside us ... accepting the fullness of Christ's love for us, living in the truth of our identity in Christ, etc. Often we lose this battle ... for it is in minds and hearts. We hide these struggles from others, choosing a mask of religion over a countenance the reflects the relationship we have with Christ. We must learn to confront these trials with the truth of God's Word and thus keeping them from becoming external fires that can destroy us.
Believers will face both of these types of "trying" ... for God uses them to accomplish His goals in us. Our growth depends on them.
As we learn to "count it all joy" we find that we are changed from the inside. God's Word assures us that the "trying of your faith worketh patience." This word for "patience" is transliterated hypomone which refers to patience as a quality of mind, the bearing of evils and suffering with a tranquil mind.
Our mind is changed! We become tranquil and at peace within ourselves.
How does this happen?
First, we must cooperate with God! Note in verse 4 "let patience have her perfect work." We must let the test run its course ... trusting in the work God is doing.
Second, we must long for completion! James ends verse 4 by saying, "that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." What a wonderful epitath for our lives. That God will have so worked in us that we are wanting (lacking) nothing.
Testing, trials and troubles are God's pruning shears, His purging fire, His carpenter's bench. He uses them to make what we need to be.
I long for this growth in my life. I pray for a cooperative spirit and seek a completed life. Daily I face the trials and difficulties ... and daily I choose joy.
What about you? Do you grasp the need for joy in suffering? How have you experienced these truths in your life?
Joy The Great Choice by Teri Lynne
Teri Lynne is an avid lover of books, constant drinker of strong coffee (with lots of sugar and creamer), and passionate follower of Christ. Married to Scott since 1996 and mother of Casiday since 2000, Teri Lynne, in her words, is living her own happily ever after ... mostly. Writing and teaching women to live empowered, confident lives in Christ and HIS strength is a dream come true for her. You can find her musings almost daily at "Pleasing to You" where she encourages, challenges and inspires others to pursue lives that are pleasing to God.