Today, I stood in front of the church doors with sun piercing the glass. I closed my eyes, as the warmth of the rays spread across my face. For a moment, time stood still. I gazed out at I-77 and watched as cars raced by one another. For a moment, I ceased from running in circles. My breathing slowed. I relished the time of silence. For that moment, I tuned into the verse that fluttered across my mind.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Watching the clouds meander across the blue skies, I paused. I was still.
Flurries of activity have encompassed life this past month. Retreats, events, and car repairs collectively have taken a toll on me. Can it be a true reality that there are only three months left of this portion of my journey? My heart can hardly stand to beat when thoughts such as those invade my mind. Just when you think you are getting settled…
Lately, the book of James and its truth has flooded my memory. It is practical in nature and does not cease to persist in pointing out aspects of my life that need to be addressed. One of those areas is trials.
“Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Oh James, how easy it is to recite those words of yours in a thoughtless manner. Truths such as these generally have the most value when they apply to your life, correct? The problem with my thinking is that I have beguiled myself into believing that trials are not normal. It is not a freak accident. James, you say it well: when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. “When” means trials are going to come; its just a matter of time.
Before I move forward, I think it is profitable to explain the meaning of the word trials. I often misunderstood trials to encompass only the biggest tragedies in life, whether that be the death of a loved one, a serious health problem, or encountering huge family issues. But I want to clarify the meaning/placement of this word, both for your sake and mine. Dr. Constable’s notes state:
“James was speaking of the different kinds of trials in which we experience temptation to accompany sinners, rather than remaining faithful to the Savior. He was not distinguishing between internal and external temptations. Trials come from both directions (cf. v. 14). Any trial can constitute a test of our faith, namely, a temptation to cease trusting and obeying God. “
Trials are all different. They are ALL important and they affect us all.
But the beauty of trials is that when our faith is tested, they give our endurance a chance to grow! When my car has an unexpected $400 repair, I can count it as an opportunity to grow my endurance. When my health continues to plague me by changing every hour, I can count it as an opportunity to grow my endurance. It is a choice to choose joy, to count it as endurance, to continue trusting and obeying God.
My encouragement is to not belittle any trials. Each trial you go through is a choice to choose joy, to count it as an opportunity to grow. Train yourself to remember that trials are normal. What happens to surprise us is our lack of discipline to choose joy and to grow in our endurance. Challenge yourself with memorizing scripture. Be still, yes. But know that He is God. Seek to know God. He is joy. You will choose joy when you actively pursue to know the Giver of joy.
The following pictures give a mere glimpse of the fun activities happening here in Ohio. Coffee dates, food extravaganzas, event fun, and baby holding happen to be some of my finest memories these last couple weeks. For my birthday, the first one not celebrated with Aaron, was bittersweet. The bid 21 was celebrated in full gusto with gifts, cards, and chocolate.I am deeply cared for and loved both here and abroad.
I want to keep expressing my thanks for all who read my blog but also who pray in regards to my journey here. It is a blessing. I hope you all have a blessed Tuesday.