Here Comes Trouble!

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4 NAS

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.  James 1:2-4 The Message

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.  Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.  James 1:2-4

Troubles!  It would seem we all have our fair share of them.  And contrary to what some may think, believers are not exempt from the struggles of this world.  In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me, you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  His statement is a guarantee of the trials we will face.  And whether you’ve come to terms with the reality of spiritual warfare or not, every believer is enlisted!

So how can we find the courage Jesus is referring to?  And what do we make of all the various trials that knock at our doors incessantly?  Why does it seem as though the hardships of this world often come in such rapid succession?  Often, we barely have the time to catch our breath.  Let me give you an example.  In the last two months our air conditioner broke down, our water heater died, our car’s check engine light started frantically flashing its dreaded red warning at us and our son was assaulted at work.  And these were all followed by a difficult loss that left us all reeling.  After a while anyone would start to wonder what in the world is going on!

I have to admit, fear has gripped me a time or two in recent days.  But there is one thing I have learned over the past several years.  It seems to help me get a grip and find the courage Jesus spoke about.  When trouble comes, instead of focusing on all the things I don’t know or understand, I fix my mind on what I do know.  Things such as I am God’s child.  (John 1:12) I know that God works all things together for good for those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28) And I love Him dearly!  I can face any trial and find victory because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13)

Here’s one of the things I’ve grown to love about the many trials I experience.  Often, the struggle I’m facing is one I have wrestled with before.   Only the last battle ended in defeat for me.  So when the all too familiar issue begins to rear its ugly head again, I recognize it as an opportunity to draw closer to God.  It teaches me how to surrender and depend on Him.  It enables me to allow His power to work through me to gain victory. Victory in an area I may have struggled with my entire life.  It’s a precious part of God’s redeeming plan for me.

Yes, for a time, our house was unbearably warm and those showers sure were cold.  But thanks to these trials there is one more thing I can add to the list of the things that I know.  My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

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