Chances are, if I ask you to name an occasion that brought you joy, you wouldn't suggest things like cancer, car accidents, chronic pain, death of a loved one, relationship problems, financial reverses etc. Yet, when we read James, we find these moments are exactly what he suggests we should consider "joy." Oh, not that the actual occurrences are joyful, because they're not, they're painful and crushing at times. They only become an occasion for joy when they increase our faith, patience, maturity, and perseverance.
Listen to how Eugene Peterson paraphrased these verses, "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."
Yet, how many times do we pray in the opposite direction of this? As soon as something bad happens, we immediately ask for it's removal from our lives. We forget that it's not mountain top experiences and "answers to prayer" that build our faith, but valleys and hard times. We don't really know how strong our faith is until it's tested. When everything collapses around us and God doesn't seem to hear our prayers; then we discover if our faith is genuine or fake and our eyes are open to what exactly our faith is in.
We get to choose our reaction to reverses. Do we turn them into occasions for growth, lesson learning, and becoming a better person, or do we resist them, wallow in self pity, seek revenge, or become bitter? I'm thinking of Joni Eareckson Tada who turned her quadriplegic handicap into a ministry that blesses thousands of disabled people around the world, and her books have encouraged me in some very low times of life.
Hebrews 5:8 says this about Jesus "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered." As His followers, we learn the same way.
Can you look back over your life and see how God has used the difficult moments for your good or to help someone else? I'd love for you to share in the comments.
I did a "lift-the-flap" style layout for this page, and used the new Carrot Bunny dies to create a fun little spring time scene with paper from the Welcome Easter paper pad as a backdrop.
Supplies from the Stamp Simply Ribbon Store:
- Welcome Easter Paper Pad (Echo Park)
- Carrot Bunny Die Set (Sizzix - Tim Holtz)
- Elegant Ovals Nestabilities (Spellbinders)
- Scripture for Graduation and Beyond
- Versafine Clair Nocturne Ink
- Watercolor Cardstock
- Foam Mounting Tape
- These colors of Distress Ink (Ranger)
- Worn Lipstick, Dried Marigold, Spiced Marmalade, Shabby Shutters, Rustic Wilderness
- These colors of Distress Oxide (Ranger)
- Salty Ocean, Twisted Citron, Gathered Twigs