Spelling question: Is the word "through" technically spelled "through" like I learned it growing up, "Thru" like drive-thru, (has a red line under it in my blogger spell check), or both? Just wondering if some of you spelling-bee lovers or scrabble people could help me out? thank you! (Hope you know I am having fun with this but serious too!) Life with a relationship with God is awesome-I m loving it! OK, On with the blog post.
The top thing that popped into my head last night as I was writing about rejoicing was about rejoicing in our trials. I've already discussed this before in some senses, but thought I would probe a little deeper, even though I may be saying things similar as to what I said in the past, but with some different Scripture verses that popped into my head.
One of the verses that I mentioned last night was Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Let me just add one of my honest side comments that before I got saved I totally "didn't like" and "didn't get" this verse. I was seriously like, "Why? Rejoice all the time? That's impossible! About WHAT?" Well, now I KNOW WHAT ABOUT!! And it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE EITHER!!!
So why and how can we rejoice in our trials and hard times?
James 1:2- says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
See what it says here? These verses say a lot! "Consider it pure joy" "Pure joy" is joy untainted by complaining--joy complete and whole lacking nothing in itself--the trials themselves are considered privileges and an honor to pass through and face as if we wouldn't desire anything else.
The verses continue, "My brothers." Now who are the "brothers?" None other than those of the family of God who are His children because they have placed their trust in Christ alone to save them and are depending on no other thing to save them.
The verse continues "whenever" no "if's," "and's," or "but's" about it. What I mean is that there are no exceptions mentioned--no thoughts of, I'll consider it joy if I feel like it" or "I'll consider it pure joy of the trial isn't too painful or doesn't affect 'my life' too much." THERE ISN'T ANY OF THAT IN THERE!!!
The verse continues Whenever you face trials of various kinds. Please DO NOTICE that there is no specification of specific trials---it just says various trials--and what may be a trial to one person may not be to another in some cases.
Why?? Why can we do this? How can we respond this way every time we face a trial?
The verse continues and tells us, "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." First of all the word KNOW was bolded in my personal emphasis of it.-- knowing not just as a fact but as an experience, in a right sense, as it has been tested out as you have walked in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Know what? We know, "the testing of your faith develops perseverance." Trials of various types test our faith and challenge it to grow--sort of like doing physical strengthening exercises of some sort-they build up your strength---faith being tested brings the same thing but in a sense of spiritual-relationship to God growth. (I am trying to be very careful how the word "spiritual" is used--it is one of those words in our culture that has truly come to mean whatever people want it to mean----uggg! scary!!) And the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Notice that the "Developing" of the perseverance does not happen immediately--something that is developed happens over a process of time! What is perseverance? It is the ability to keep going forward and pressing on by God's strength no matter how hard things get. WE ALL NEED THAT-NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU HAVE BEEN IN A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST!!
The verse continues, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." When perseverance is developed and finishes its process in us (most likely this is totally complete in us when we see Christ face to face, but that doesn't mean that a lot of it doesn't happen here as we allow and make our hearts and lives available to the Spirit of God working in us---so no excuses!!!) So when perseverance is developed in us, we find that the end result is that we are "mature and complete, not lacking in anything." Doesn't that sound great!!!! I get excited about being one day mature an complete evden if it takes a hard process to get there. We won't lack in anything either! AWESOME!!!
Can't you just see the first century Christians getting thrown to the lions thinking, "I don't enjoy the process, but it is a PURE JOY to be considered worthy of dying for Jesus Christ who died for me? I can!! And the response of one kld to the courage and response of another to stand for Christ at the cost of the8ir very life......because of Jesus and what He had done for them?
What will we do? He may not call us to be martyred for Him---and we shouldn't go seek it unnecessarily, but how will we respond in the light of our trials in life?
Here is another verse 1 Peter 5:8-11 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." This verse carries with it the same concept of standing firm in the faith and remembering that we re not alone in out sufferings because others around the world are enduring the same things. After we have suffered for awhile, Christ himself will restore us, making us strong and steadfast (the idea of perseverance.)
Romans 5:1-5 tell us, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." These verses says that perseverance in our sufferings produces character and that character produces hope--and that hope DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US!!!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." Jars of clay are fragile--they remind us that it is God's power that is at work in us as we go through the trials and the path that He has planned for our very best and very good. Trials personally and trials together as the body of Christ---His followers!!!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. See how Paul looks at his trials, and he was literally beaten and all liker three times near to death? He doesn't even refer to them as trials He says they are LIGHT AND MOMENTARY TROUBLES!!!! His eyes are on the eternal glory that awaits as a result! AND HE FIXES HIS EYES ON JESUS CHRIST THROUGH IT ALL---NEVER TAKING HIS EYES AWAY!!
Father, help me!!! I WANT TO BE THAT WAY!!!!!!
James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
Sorry, American culture! You are (in a general sense) wrong! Christianity is NOT ABOUT having "an easy life once you trust Christ." Many times life actually gets harder afterwards--hate to burst the bubble!! I've had more things happen in the last two months since I have been saved than I have seen for quite awhile than when I was not a Christian and follower of Christ. But there is an "easiness" if you want to call it that because God gives you the strength to go through things as you depend on Him and you no longer go through things alone on your own---which IS A VERY BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!
BOTTON LINE: WHEN YOU ARE SUFFERING OR GOING THROUGH VARIOUS TRIALS REMEMBER THE END RESULT!! GOD IS NOT "BEING MEAN" TO YOU--HE IS TRYING TO FORM PERSEVERANCE, CHARACTER, AND HOPE IN YOU----AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THE MOMENTARY AND LIGHT AFFLICTIONS ARE ACHIEVING A CROWN OF GLORY FOR US THAT WE WILL ONE DAY HAVE THE HONOR OF LAYING AT THE FEET OF CHRIST BECAUSE HE IS TRULY WORTHY OF ALL THE GLORY FROM OUR LIVES ANYWAYS!!! Rejoice, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, REJOICE!!!! Again, I say, rejoice!!!!!