“(2) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
“(2) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (4) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“(2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
This is one of those life verses for me. My life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses these last four years. And I have only been a Christian for four years. I didn’t become a Christian lightly or by chance. It was by God’s design. In God’s providence He prepped me right as I found out I had cancer. The Holy Spirit gave me the will to read the Gospel of John three times before I had the surgery to have the cancerous tumors removed. And then right before I went under Jesus spoke to me three very simple words, “You are mine.”
Those three words changed everything. They rocked my world. When I woke up everything was different. I was a completely different person. If I had the money I would have legally changed my name. So many I was ‘lucky’ in the sense that I got saved while dealing with cancer. I was never under the false impression that my life would be easy simply because I was a Christian. Which is a really good thing because my life has been one really had challenge after another since Jesus reached down and claimed me for His team.
I have trials of many, various kinds. And I put the three different versions of these verses up there because I think if you read the slightly different variations you get more out of them. Or at least I do. All of Scripture is God breathed, so I believe the various versions can really help paint an over all picture of what my Father is trying to say to me. Especially when I am not feeling very patient, steadfast, or filled with perseverance. I get there most days, but some days it is hard to reach that spot. It is a daily walk, or hobble in my case.
My struggle right now is personal, and has nothing to do with my physical health. It is a struggle I have been dealing with for a long time so I am actually pretty good at steadfastness and perseverance. I waiver on the patience more than I ought to. I try to change things even though I know I can’t. All I can do is pray and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. The one aspect of this struggle that I have a very hard time grasping is counting it as a joy.
I don’t see it as a joy at all. It is painful. It causes my heart harm. Some nights this struggles has me cry myself to sleep. I don’t know how to look at it and see it as a blessing. It just hurts. And I know it likely won’t stop hurting any time soon.
I know my lack of patience is a sin. I know I am supposed to wait upon the Lord. And when I am waiting during my trials, while I am persevering, and holding steadfast I am to turn to Jesus because he is my strength. I know I cannot do this on my own. I am not even sure why I try. Pride. Pride is why I try if I am honest. I think I can handle this on my own, that I can do this on my own, that I should be able to take care of things on my own. Pride. Pride. Pride. Pride. Pride. I am not sure why my pride comes out so strongly when I am struggling. Humility, humbly seeking out Jesus should always be my first response.
I, of course, say it is. But I don’t do much more than say a quick prayer to him while I am annoyed. I don’t seek Jesus out in His word. In my frustrations and fears I turn inward, wanting to figure everything out myself (my pride again) and I alienate everyone around me. Rather than turning to those who love me for help, rather than seeking the aid of fellow Christians, and rather than seeking out godly counsel. Besides, I am in too bad a mood to listen to it anyway. I wouldn’t want to subject them to me (pride again) so it is better if I just keep to myself. The devil is really good at telling me little lies to feed my frustrations and lead me further and further from the very person who can help me. Jesus.
Humility is hard. Telling someone you can’t do something, and that you need help is hard. Swallowing my pride and going before a large group of people and asking for help is hard. Getting angry, getting frustrated, getting annoyed, and withdrawing from the world is easy. The devil always makes his path easier than God’s path. That is why his traps are so easy to fall into. God’s way takes thought, effort, consideration, love, devotion, care, and utter selflessness. We have to die to ourselves which means giving up my pride.
Which is really a kinda funny, odd sorta thing to realize. The biggest struggle I have with finding joy in Jesus is pride. Pride is the biggest thing this world tries to sell me. I would rather have Jesus. The joy isn’t what is important, Jesus is. And I need to realize that when I go down that easier path, when I pick pride, annoyance, frustration, and anger….I am telling Jesus that He isn’t worth it. I am telling Jesus He isn’t the most important thing. I am telling Jesus He is second place. I am saying Jesus, even though you are God and have promised me only good things….I don’t trust you enough to handle this. So I am going it on my own. I don’t need you.
“I don’t need you”
Those four words make my soul shutter, and I cry thinking about how my actions and deeds actually say that to Jesus. I am horrified and shamed to think of how those four words stack up to the soul sweet, life altering three words Jesus spoke to me, “You are mine.” And the thing is Jesus doesn’t need me. Jesus wants me. Jesus wants me and loves me. Jesus pursues me even when I betray Him and give Him a gabillion reasons not to. I am not just undeserving of Jesus, I am ill-deserving. It is a miracle and a mystery why He would want me and love me. I am just grateful God does. And I am grateful that the Holy Spirit never gives up on me and is always by my side to pick me up again.
I know I will go to bed tonight wrecked and in tears over this struggle, repenting in my heart with the pure hope I will do better tomorrow. I am also shamefully afraid that tomorrow I will do just as bad a job of it. The one thing I am not afraid of, though, is losing Jesus’ love. I do not fear the Holy Spirit turning His back on me no matter the countless times I have, and will, turn my back on Him. I pray I will do a better job tomorrow. I pray for joy in this trial, as well as the others in my life. I know that Jesus fully understands what I am going through. I know the Holy Spirit knows my mind and heart. I know my Heavenly Father will answer my prayers, and only give me good things. I know this in my heart to be true. I just have to be patient. I need to persevere. I need to worship Him in steadfast love and adoration.
Abba Father, you know I am not perfect at this. You know I never will be perfect this. I will never give up trying. Just as I know you will never give up on me, your daughter. Thank you for being a dad on whose chest I can beat my fists in pain and frustrations. Thank you for being a daddy in whose lap I can curl up and cry out my sorrows on Your chest. Thank you Dad, for being somewhere safe for me to be myself, where I am enough….in all my flaws, brokenness, and imperfections …it is nothing but beauty and perfect for you. Thank you for always being the one man in my life I can count on to be faithful, honest, and true. To love me without conditions, restrictions, and comparisons. Abba Father, I know you are Holy and Divine and Righteous. The Creator of heaven and earth. But tonight, right now, you are my heaven dad. Just that, right now, for me. So thank you daddy, for being here for me. I love you when you are Mighty, and I love you when you are mine. I love you when I am Yours. Amen
i dont know what your struggle is, but i've been there. it's funny that we read the instruction manual for so many things and we are accustomed to an instant "a + b" result. However, as simple as the words are that compose the New Testament, the words are truly easier said than done! Putting total faith in God is extremely difficult during trying times and it requires an extreme amount of effort, and when I was going through my trials, I wondered if God Was Putting me through those hardships so i could refocus all of my efforts on Him
Thank you Yalanda. I am trying to do just that, to focus all of myself on Him during all the chaos. I don't believe James wrote those words thinking they would be easy, but more that they would encourage and bring hope. That they would give me something to look forward to. So thank you, so much, for your encouragement.