Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
James 1:2, NLT*
Do you see troubles as an opportunity?
Maybe I’m still too much of a child inside, but I have the child’s response (mentally) of cowering and shrinking. Of thinking the trouble is too big, and fearing it will overwhelm me. Of seeing a threat.
Another part of me raises my defenses. It’s a win-or-lose struggle, and I can’t afford to lose.
James gives us a much broader perspective. Of course the pain and risk of trouble is great. (In verse 12 he talks about how “God blesses those who patiently endure.”) But he reveals a higher level of stakes.
Trouble isn’t one more bout with a larger danger that will eventually overcome us, as if life is really out to get us.
Trouble is one more opportunity to grow spiritually and to deepen our relationship with the God who loves us. (click to tweet)
It’s not a case of “fight until you can’t get up.” James says trouble tests our faith. To that he adds:
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:3-4, NLT*)
How can we reach a perfect state of needing nothing? By becoming fully reliant on our God, who we’ve discovered is all-sufficient for any trouble that threatens us. Will that happen this side of Heaven? Maybe not, but we can grow toward it.
God who loves us and redeems us, please open us to see opportunity where our natural selves see only threats. Help us to allow the troubles in our lives to help develop our endurance. Give us the faith to trust You, so we can experience Your all-sufficient care for us.
We have another Matt Maher song this week, because it fits perfectly: “Everything is Grace.”
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
You’ve explained James’ reasoning very well, Janet. I stumbled on this kind of growth through trust and faith unwittingly when our family was going through serious financial difficulties. A point came when hubby and I gave up. When a new bill or need dropped on our heads, we simply said, ‘Hm. Can’t wait to see how the Lord’s going to deal with this one.’ That was around 20 years ago, and the Lord did deal with it – not just each need, but gradually he stabilized our family, and put us on a route to being financially sound. But it began in the pit of years of trouble, and trusting from there.
Bobbi, I think you’re right that we usually stumble into spiritual growth. Maybe it’s because we don’t pay attention until it’s a crisis. May we learn to keep our ears open and our spirits teachable!