I spend a fair amount of time “people watching. And one thing I’ve noticed is no one is always happy. What a surprise. I suspect if someone was always happy, they would end up, locked-up in some form of an institution. Even the Bible tells us that we will all experience troubles.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. [James 1:2, NLT]i
Did you notice that James (the brother of Jesus) did not say “…if troubles come your way,….” We are living in a broken society, on a broken planet. We will experience troubles.
But did you also notice James’ advice to consider trouble as, “…an opportunity for great joy.” At this point, some of you might be thinking, “Now that’s just wrong!” And you’d be, …wrong. Why?
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. [James 1:2, NLT]
James is telling us that God will test us from time to time. And that does make sense. As noted above, we live in a dangerous environment, in dangerous times. We have to be strong to stand for Jesus. But James also said trouble is “…an opportunity for great joy”. It’s not a sure thing. Can we make it a sure thing? Not by ourselves! But, with Jesus on our side….
Proverbs 19:21 tells us that: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart…”. (A fine example of biblical truth!) How often we get ahead of ourselves, to say nothing of God. And, it is usually because we are saying nothing to God, that we find ourselves in trouble. So, first and foremost we must humble ourselves before God and, P-R-A-Y. Get into God’s purpose (His will) for your life. It will be much easier to deal with troubles—very often the consequences of our own actions—when you are under God’s providence. The 2nd half of Proverbs 19:21 continues with, “…but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” [NLT]
Remember, troubles do not originate with God. But, God will use troubles that can grow us. And, while they will never be more than we can handle; they will, never-the-less, stretch us, and strengthen us. Just think of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as trainers—standing with us and encouraging us, every step of the way. So, cooperate; and keep praying.
They are being tested by many troubles and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy which has overflowed in rich generosity. [2 Corinthians 8:2, NLT]
So let it (endurance) grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. [James 1:4, NLT]
In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. [2 Corinthians 6:4,NLT]
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:28, NLT]
Romans 8:28 delivers a truly wonderful message. It is God’s word to us that, for those who love Him (i.e. Christians) and, are living in His purpose for us; then everything—let me repeat that—everything we do, is going to work together for our good!
And, just to tie this altogether we have one more passage of scripture.
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. …your faithful service is an offering to God. [Philippians 2:14-15, 17, NLT]
Did you get that? When we are living our lives for God, we are honoring—giving glory to—God. And, God is busy putting it all together for our “good”. Talk about a “win-win”. Folks, it just can’t get any better than that!
I have often prayed for kingdom eyes and ears. And, I praise you for what you have shown me thus far. I am also learning why it is so hard to truly come to grips with the differences between earth and heaven. I guess this is part of the “perfecting” that we must all go through. Sometimes, Lord, it is difficult; and sometimes, I loose my way for awhile—as you have seen. So, I thank you Jesus for your inexhaustible supply of love and patience. I don’t know if I’m “on schedule” or not; but I recognize that my faith grows stronger and my love for others becomes easier. And from the vantage point of elapsed time, I think many would say you have worked miracles in me, …and I know that’s true. I also know, that I still have lots of room for improvement. And, while I am not always happy, I can be joyful and content in Romans 8:28.
Lord, I ask you to keep perfecting me. And, I pray the Holy Spirit will guide this servant along the path you have planned for his life.
In your precious name I pray, Amen.
i Scripture quotations marked [NLT] are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.