It’s not one of my favorite scriptures. In chapter 1, James is writing to Christians who are being persecuted and telling them how to think and live in order to win. He tells them to see difficulties as a gift. Did you know that when we come into relationship with Christ it places a target on us? Yes, we are “saved” by believing, but then we have the same enemy that Christ had who wants to “steal, kill, and destroy” everything good the Father has planned for us. While Jesus defeated death and hell, we still have conflict over our lives today until He returns.
In His Name we pray, stand, speak, and live by His Authority that He won by His finished work on the cross. Through the trials we face in life we are changed, strengthened, and grown in maturity in our faith and love. The word Christian means anointed one. Yeah, that’s you if you believe in Him. Don’t feel anointed? Well, sometimes I don’t either. Sometimes it feels like my faith is under attack and the external and internal pressures of life are great. What then? Here’s that verse:
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 1:2-3 MSG)
Tests and challenges are a gift? Yes. And not only are they a gift, we have a choice as to whether we receive the gift or not. We can stay the course or leave it prematurely. Many people leave their church as soon as their feelings get hurt. Some quit a job when they feel it’s too hard or they weren’t invited to the office party. There are others who agree with an abusive person to avoid conflict, allowing their lives to be controlled. And most of us struggle with even the basics of letting God lead us through life’s choices and decisions. We need to learn to stay the course!
While growth is not easy and sometimes quite painful, we need it! Without that personal growth, we flounder where we are and end up a complaining, weeping, mess of a person in bondage to the very things from which Christ came to set us free! So how do we choose to grow? How do we find the gift in the trouble? We stick with God!
Start making a daily choice to become determined in your faith that no matter what comes, no matter how difficult the circumstance, you are going to stay the course and trust the process for the Lord is going to use it for your good. There’s a gift inside every problem. There’s an opportunity for more faith in every difficulty. Growth and maturity are woven into every moment of your life and is yours for the taking…IF you stay the course and trust the process of who you are as God’s dearly loved son or daughter.
Stop accepting what is unacceptable to Him. You are here for a reason – to know His love, yes, but for more. So when the pressure comes, when conflicts arise, when your heart is troubled, take it all to God. He has a way for you through the difficulty and promises to lead you through the fiery trial you are facing. Call someone to pray with you.
Suffering brings God’s presence near in a way nothing else can. – Timothy Keller
Learn to follow Him in the small things and then you’ll be able to follow Him through the big things that want to shatter your world. Build relationship with Him now in order to remain close in trust when things go dark.
His love for you really is perfect, lacking nothing that you need, and your trust in that love makes the darkness run! Fear cannot remain when we grow in trusting God’s love.
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:17-18 MSG)
We typically relate God’s love to our own limited, human love. His love is deeper than the ocean and wider than the universe. Paul’s desire in Ephesians 3:18 was that we all would come to understand how wide, how high, and how deep the love of Christ really is! It’s a supernatural, all-enveloping, everything-you-need kind of love!
There are many who have been a Christian a long time who still aren’t well acquainted with God’s perfect love for them. Fear has a crippling power in their life. They are weak in the face of trouble. (That’s been me more times than I want to remember!) But “our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s” so that we are able to live an effective, powerful life with God while we are here. As long as we are depending on His love for us.
Allow Him to grow you up in your relationship with Him. Make the decision daily that you are going to grow in knowing that love and allow it to grow you. Then when your faith is under pressure, you will so trust in that love that you are able to stay the course no matter what and receive the gift hidden in the problem. Your true colors will be displayed to a fearful and hurting world and others will be inspired by the life you live.
From the desk by the window where the morning mist is floating gently through the pines.
Want more info about book Robin to speak? Or maybe some info on her Spiritual Life Coaching program for women? Robin does individual and group coaching and her clients are simply amazing! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the here and here for more info.