Almost two years ago, I decided to focus on most of Paul’s epistles. Since I was on a roll with letters, I moved onto Peter’s. And since so much of the New Testament is made up of letters, I’m now looking at James’. This is especially appropriate because my small group is in the middle of a study of this very book!
Many Christians know and quote verses 3 and 4 often. We know we’re to find “joy” in our trials because those of us who have walked with Christ for a while know that trials do, indeed, test and grow our faith.
I believe this with all my heart. I believe each and every trial or test I’ve gone through has made me stronger, both in mind and spirit. I know when I faced adversity or difficulty, I have two choices: I can whine and complain and roll up into a little ball, or I can seek God’s strength to get me through.
I’d rather do the latter.
But I do know that there are those whose struggles have been so much greater than mine. How do you find the joy when you lose your dearly-loved child? Or the job you’ve faithfully served for 20 years lays you off? Or your spouse tells you he just doesn’t love you anymore? How do you find the joy then?
The only thing I can tell you is take your pain to God. I know that sounds clichéd, but it’s true. I spend too many years suffering alone. I turned my back on God as a teenager because I couldn’t understand why He’d allowed very painful things to happen to me. When I finally made my way back to Him in my late-twenties, my suffering didn’t end. But I know now that I can truly find joy in knowing God has a plan beyond my understanding. And that plan is surrounded by His love.
A woman of faith I greatly admired said it this way:
I have learned that all things fit together into a pattern for my good and God’s glory. Hardships have forced me to make decisions about God. Ah, this wheelchair has made muscular my faith.You know who said these words? Joni Earekson Tada who’s been in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic for 50 years.
Yes, we will all suffer at one time or another. Yes, we will face trials and temptations. But we can find joy if we just trust God. Trust Him and His plan.