I came across this image by way of the Bible app awhile ago. This is one of those challenging verses where the Bible asks you to reframe a challenging situation as “pure joy,” when the circumstances of your life involves “trials of many kinds” and “testing of your faith”. During times like these, I like to hang my hat on verses like the ones here, found in James 1.
I take a couple of key things away from these verses:
- As followers of Christ, we will encounter trials – it’s simply a matter of time.
- We have a choice about how we respond to these difficulties – wallowing in self-pity, or adopting a more hopeful, “God will see me through this” kind of attitude. Put another way, we can either take the long view or the short view. Admittedly, I struggle here, but I believe that I’m making some progress, thanks be to God!
Sometimes, our trials and testing can seem overwhelming or relatively small, but we know that we’re still going through a challenging season. If you’d be so kind, allow me to share a couple of smallish examples to illustrate this point:
Last week (I think? Honestly, the days sometimes run together) I had shared about the issue with my car’s engine warning light. I had taken my car in, and it was determined that my engine was okay. In a matter of minutes, the warning light had been switched off, and I was on my merry way.
A few days later, the light came back on. I thought to myself, “Seriously? What now? Lord, didn’t we just resolve this?” So I dutifully called my friend – the one who took such good care of my car earlier – and explained the situation to him. He asked me a few basic questions:
- “Is the light flashing?” To which I said, “No.”
- “Is the car showing any visible signs of distress?” Again, I replied, “No.”
- “Was your gas cap firmly in place?” I had to admit that it was still a little loose, but that I had tightened it after the warning light came on.
- He then told me, “Daily, you have no need to worry. It’s a computer issue. You can ignore the light. The next time you come down this way, we’ll take care of it.”
So now the challenge is to ignore the light and not worry about it. Every day! Talk about a test (a small one, though).
And then there’s one more! I also shared last week about my dizziness, and how I had mostly recovered from it. Can you believe that the day after I posted to this blog about it, the dizziness came back big time (of course, I didn’t help matters that I made a couple of poor choices in my exercise class). It didn’t happen right away, but sure enough, the symptoms returned. I found this discouraging, but I remembered that God had gotten me through this in the past, and He’ll do so now, too. I saw a doctor today, and he honestly didn’t seem too worried about it. He gave me some medicine, and said, “Call me if you need anything.” Again, I thought to myself, “Well, if the doctor – the expert – isn’t overly concerned about this, then why am I?”
It occurs to me that in these smallish ways, my faith is being tested as I persevere and trust God. Either I can freak out over my engine light, or believe the car expert and not be concerned about it. And either I can fret over my dizziness and think it means something bad is happening, or trust a licensed physician who seems to think that this is all par for the course (at least for my inner ear, anyway). No matter how you slice it, the choice of how I respond is mine – and only mine – to make.
Dear Lord, thank You for this reminder from the book of James that I am called to persevere and trust You in all things. And yes, my faith will be tested; along the way, I will experience some trials, too. Your job is to resolve these issues, but my job is to not worry about them.
Forgive me for repeatedly failing this test. When I falter, remind me to speak the truth to myself: My car is fine. My body will be okay, too, unless You have some new truth to reveal about the situation, which is always Your prerogative. In the meantime, please help me with this “pure joy” business. I freely admit that I’m not there yet – as I surely don’t consider it “pure joy” when I “face trials of many kinds”. However, I’m definitely shifting away from the attitudes of fear and hopelessness, and I consider this to be significant progress, indeed. Thank You for bringing about these significant changes to the way that I think, believe, and act, so that my behavior more closely aligns with the truth in Your Word. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.