I am in charge of the "mini-devotion" at MOPS tomorrow. I think by mini, they meant no sermons so I will do my best (although I am wordy and God blessed me with a mouth that loves to jabber) to keep it "mini". I thought I would use you, my faithful blog followers, to test it out on.
This fall has been a test of faith for me. It seems if it is not one thing, it is another. But I am not alone in dealing with life's circumstances. It seems we all have times of discouragement and difficulties.
If we look at James (a great book, highly recommend it - chalk full of great, practical stuff!) the author was James, Jesus's brother and he penned this book in the 1st century when Christian's were being martyered for their faith, the church was young and suffering was more the rule than the exception. James starts of his letter of encouragment with these verse...
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2
I find it so interesting that is how he starts his letter. Obviously, times were tough (we established life in the time of the letter). He doesn't say "if" you face trials but "when". See, trials are not new, they have been around this place for a LONG time. There is not one person that trials are blind to. We all have them. SO, if we all have them, how do we cope?
Well, James says consider it pure joy....
You say WHAT?!?! Well God knows our emotions. He knows we are human and he does not say to rejoice in the pain and tragedy of life. What he is saying is to have a positive outlook. God doesn't go a-wall on us during tragedy, actually it is quite the opposite.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
So how can God take beauty out of the ashes, make a postive out of a negative. He can grow our character and our dependence on Him.
So when hard times come....lean on God and cry out to Him. Ask Him to lead you through and give you strength to endure. Ask Him for wisdom and hope. Ask him to change our attitude from grumbling to gratitude.
We will fail at times but with each effort we give, He will grow us to be more like Him. And in the times we succeed and persevere, we will gain confidence that we can weather the storm.
And I believe God will use our trials to minister to others. We don't go through hardships in vain. God always use the negative for the positive so have hope in Him and persevere, whatever your struggle may be. We can rest assured, God is near!
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will recieve the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12