by Missy Milbourn
This Week's Verse: James 1:2, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." (NIV)
So many times as I read the Bible, which explains and describes and teaches the things of the Kingdom of God, I think what an upside down kingdom. God looks at things so differently than the way the world teaches us to view things.
The longer I’m a Christian, the more I realize how important it is that we go through the process of the “renewing of the mind”. We need to let go of how the world looks at things, and grab hold of how the Lord looks at things. Take this week’s scripture for example:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
WHAT!?! Are you out of your mind?!?!
I don’t know about you, but when troubles come my way, I am anything but joyful about it. Seriously.
Depending on what trouble comes my way, my response to it--instead of being joyful--typically falls under one of these categories:
Let’s pick one of those and examine it a bit. Let’s say that I get angry easily, and I find that various situations keep happening that cause me to become angry. As a result, I think, why does trouble continually come into my life causing me to be upset?!
A wise Christian friend once told me that God, in his mercy, often brings us to the same mountain because He wants us to learn how to get over that mountain.
I believe that’s a huge part of what James 1 is teaching. Let’s looks at it in The Message: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way" (James 1:2-4).
If anger is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us deal with that, because we’ll be a lot happier if we’re not honked off all the time.
If being offended is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that, because we’ll be a lot happier if our feelings aren’t hurt all the time.
If fear is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll have a happier life if we learn to trust God instead of living in a state of worry all the time.
Oftentimes when we find ourselves mad or offended or fearful, our first inclination is to flee the situation. But God is saying “don’t”. Don’t leave prematurely, but let this trial do its work in you so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
John Bevere, in his book The Bait of Satan, speaks of how Christians often leave their church over an offense. And often, when they do that, they run into the same problem at their next church. Because, guess what, God wants to work something out in that person, and as long as we’re in relationship with Him, He’s going to keep bringing the issue up. He wants to help us through it, because we belong to Him, and He’s molding us into His image for our benefit, and for the benefit of His Kingdom. He is guiding us into full maturity.
Let’s not run from what He has for us. But instead, let’s ask Him what it is He wants us to learn from the trial. Knowing that we can trust Him to make us mature, not deficient in any way…and that, my friend, is reason for joy.
Father, it is so hard when trouble comes our way. Typically our reaction is a “not so good” emotional one. But Lord, help us to trust you when trouble comes our way. Help us to know You more. To lean on You more. To learn from You, allowing the trial to grow us up in whatever manner you see fit.
Think about how you respond when troubles come your way. Or maybe you are in the midst of a trial right now. Take a moment to think about what God may want to teach you through that particular trial.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:10, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NIV)