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My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)
I don’t usually jump for joy when I have trials or encounter difficulty. My first reaction is to try to somehow avoid the pain. So this scripture is not one that I readily embrace, yet I understand that I cannot pick and choose as if I were standing at a smorgasbord.
I remain committed to the fact that God can make good out of all situations, even the ones that may not be good. When I am in a trial, it’s important that I have the joy of the Lord, because the weight of the trial makes me unhappy. There is a stark difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is based upon my circumstances; joy is based upon who is with me during the circumstance.
The writer of the book of James is telling us that there is something to be gained from our trials, and while we are waiting on God, we develop patience. Trials also test our faith. When I cannot see my way out, that is the best time to trust and believe.
I have several choices during a trial:
I can become better or I can become bitter.
I can allow God to soften my heart or I can become hardened and no longer listen to what God may offer.
I can ask for wisdom during a trial or I can decide that I know what is best.
I can pray during a trial or I can decide that prayer will not help me.
It is always important for me to establish the basis for a trial I am going through. A trial can be caused by something I have done, in which case the best way to handle it is to repent and ask God to forgive me for not obeying His voice or even asking for His advice in the matter. There are trials that come as a result of taking a stand as a person of faith. Then there are unexplainable trials, the ones I cannot explain no matter how hard I try. The bottom line is that all of these test our faith.
Remember that Job was a righteous man whom God allowed to be attacked. He suffered terribly, but no matter what his friends or family said, he was not moved from his faith in God. It seemed like there would be no end to his suffering, but he held on and eventually his friends and family were proved wrong. He had done nothing to offend God, but he could not explain the tragedy.
That is why I believe that we should always examine ourselves first, because we know ourselves best. I do not let other people determine the status of my relationship with God. Once I know that all is well between me and God, I can continue to hold on by faith.
There is a place of joy, peace and confidence in knowing that God is with me and will never leave me. As hard as it is to trust God during hard times, it is necessary. Someone said, “When you get to the end of your rope, God is there.” I thank God that even if I let go, He will catch me and carry me the rest of the way.
My prayer point is to pray for God’s eyes during the difficult places in our lives so that we can learn the lessons that are necessary for growth. That is the source of our joy.
God bless you!
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Rev. Dr. Peola C. Hicks manages all prayer, volunteer and partner programs for OurPrayer. OurPrayer is a Christ centered ministry that receives and prays for over 750,000 requests on an annual basis through the web, phone and Facebook. Peola is an ordained minister and has a profile on Facebook as Peola’s Prayer Points.