Trials, Trials everywhereby Susan and David Coleman on 09/08/13
I have a friend who posted a picture on her refrigerator of a woman in a bikini lounging beside a pool. She did that because she wanted to lose 20 pounds to look better for an upcoming vacation. Every day-actually every time she opened that refrigerator- she saw what she wanted to look like- the ultimate transformation- and she knew what she needed to do. She set to the task of doing cardio and weights and just about anything else she could think of to boost her metabolism and burn fat. She took action. She gave up cookies and cakes and ate lean protein and veggies. She made sacrifices, made choices, even if they went against what felt good at the moment. She would get on the scale every Monday. And, amazingly, on those weeks she lost no weight-or worse yet- gained weight- she stuck to the plan. She had confidence in the equation that says increased exertion, decreased calories equals weight loss. Eventually, she lost the 20 pounds. Eventually, she looked like the picture- well, not exactly like the picture- but you get the idea.
So, why is it so difficult for us to apply that same confidence, action, and steadfastness to our spiritual life? James, the brother of Jesus, instructs us:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2,3
My brothers and sisters in Christ, be completely filled with gladness when you fall into and are completely encompassed by various trials-for you will come to know as you go through the trials that they are testing or proving your faith and the relationship that you have with God and testing to prove His utter and complete protection and love for you. When trials come, and they will come, and we are completely encompassed by them- we are to call out to our God for his guidance, for His protection, His help, for His path out the problems. And when in His gracious love, he answers and shows us, and picks us up and embraces us, and shelters us- the reality of God’s active presence in our lives becomes more real. And because it is more real to us, we are more likely to run to Him and trust Him more fully next time. We become more steadfast, our faith deepens and our trust widens. But, more importantly, we undergo transformation- moving closer into the likeness of Christ. James reminds us that we should grab hold of that steadfastness in our minds- to own it- to continue in it, so that it may have its perfect work- that we may be found complete- lacking nothing. That these trials will each work to make us into the man or woman that God destined us to be; that with our minds steadfast on the love and care of our Heavenly Father, we know- we can see and we can understand- the plan, the image, the picture of what we are working towards.
Trials will come; we must remain steadfast in seeking His will, His guidance, His protection- we must run to Jesus and embrace Him-even as the trials encompass all of who we are- we are even more so encompassed by His grace and tender mercies. And in the end, we are changed. So, in the midst of the trials, understand His love is everlasting, look at the picture of what we will be- and count it all joy.
See you on the Path.....