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Archive for March, 2017

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“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 MSG).

In the midst of trials and tribulations we may feel anything but grateful for the gift. Most often trials are accompanied by fear, anger, and gnashing of teeth ― perhaps along with some regrets. But we never think of joy. The world says “That reaction indicates someone who obviously does not understand the gravity of the situation.” And yet, James recommends an attitude of joy in the face of circumstances beyond our control. Why are we told to try not to get out of trials prematurely? Because trials make our faith mature. Remember what Paul told the believers in Corinth. “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Why do some people remain babes in Christ for many years? By God’s grace some may not have had any trials, I am convinced that others have used worldly methods to get out of trials. In doing so, they have lost an opportunity to mature their faith. Perhaps this is why the letter to the Hebrews indicates that time alone is not enough to mature your faith (Hebrews 5:11-14).

Suppose we adopted the attitude of joy during trials. What would that look like and what would it say to the world around us? If we were outwardly (and inwardly) joyous when everything around is falling apart, people around us might question our mental state. But if they know us, they will wonder at our faith. They might wonder what kind of faith we have that gives us the assurance that everything is going to be all right. This could work into an opportunity for us to tell them what a mighty God we serve.

In any case, God knew that we would have trials here on earth. Don’t you find it interesting that the verse doesn’t say that you may have a trial in your future. It says when you have trials, consider it a gift.
Perhaps you can think of a time when a trial actually became a gift. In her last few months of life, my mother needed someone to come and live with her because she didn’t want to go to a nursing home. As the only child not employed, it seemed I would have to go. I left my husband in Colorado and stayed with her in Nebraska. My husband fully supported me from a distance while I learned how to become a nurse.

Since I had always hated needles and the sight of blood, I cringed when the doctor told me I would be testing her blood sugar at least four times a day and giving her the necessary injections. I dreaded what was ahead and also feared that I couldn’t do it. Also, the idea of being in Nebraska in the dead of winter did not thrill me. I reminded myself that I can ‘endure’ all things through Christ who strengthens me.

With practice, I became quite adept at giving injections and performing other services required to care for her and keep her comfortable. And although it seemed like a lot of effort at first, in time it became routine. Our time together became a sweet blessing. My mother was a strong woman with a wonderful sense of humor. Her positive attitude soon changed my attitude. We enjoyed our days together and now I wouldn’t trade the time I shared with her for a million dollars ― it was priceless!

Everything we go through has purpose. I have counseled people going through challenges that I, too, have experienced and for that reason I was able to identify with and guide them. That is a joyous moment for me.
As believers, we know that God is control. Trials and tribulations are allowed in our lives to serve us. They give us opportunity to respond instead of react, to grow in maturity, and to learn compassion for others. These are some of the greatest lessons in life. God is forming us into the individuals He created us to be. So rejoice!

Adopt an attitude of joyousness in all areas of your life. Doing this will confuse your enemies and glorify the Lord. The beauty of this is that the Lord has given us the ability to be joyous in spite of what goes around us. Our joy comes from within and we can call on it to come forth at any time. Jesus is that joy that lives in us. He is in us! Let our attitude be joyous. Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Dear Lord, You are the Giver of joy. When darkness tries to invade my very soul, I ask that You shine Your light of joy throughout my body. May it be so bright that others want it, too. Amen.

This is an excerpt from the forty-day devotional, “Attitude Matters”. Click here to order.

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