Faith is not about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out. ~ Author Unknown
When studying scripture, I find it useful to review a few different translations – get my curiosity flowing to the ebbs and flows of different Holy Books. God’s Word is so awe-inspiring, there is a plethora of resources out there to help His words find a place in anyones heart. (Thank you BibleGateway.com!)
Being raised the daughter of a Music Minister, I have experience in multiple faith denominations relying mostly on KJV and NIV; no matter the congregation my mothers ministry took us to, the familiarity of those words have always been comforting. Growing in my own relationship with God, often these days I find the NLT, ESV or The Message versions ringing a bit truer to tugging those heart strings of mine… as they did with this scripture below:
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-12 New Living Translation (NLT)
To me, the above verses are like an instruction booklet on how to carry oneself in faith under pressure, trusting in a higher power to provide you that strength and wisdom when you turn to Him and seek His power and protection. It is only through these tests of faith that our endurance, strength and wisdom has a chance to grow and we are prepared for even greater gifts of joy and promises made by God in
this life and the next.
So, how do you look into face of trouble and thank God for this opportunity to find great Joy?
The hardest part is admitting we are powerless in a troublesome situation and making a decision to turn it over to God 110%, our pride, knowledge, fears and egos tend to get in the way. We all have had those foxhole prayer experiences, Quick God, get me outta here, I’ll do anything! I believe what James is trying to convey in these verses is that by seeking God in all of your affairs and leaning into your faith as trials come instead of escaping into earthly temptations, you WILL find that great joy that only can be found when you switch your day-to-day life from being will-powered to higher-powered. I made that decision to Let Go, Let God on Easter Sunday 3.31.2013 – it has been a journey of pains, struggles, temptations plus grace, joys, opportunities, growth and profound completeness I never knew.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Lewis is saying that we humans fool around with the things of this world, thinking they will bring joy into our lives, when in reality only that which is eternal can bring true joy into our lives. In the verses above, James gives us more insight into finding pure joy! So take that leap of faith next time troubles steer your way, lose the habit of foxhole prayers and lean-in with genuine humility to ask God to guide you towards the solution and closer to discovering His great joy for yourself.
– Laurie-Faith Gibson