Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Consider it Pure Joy?

I have a confession to make... I struggle between wanting God to answer my prayers and pour out His blessings on me, while also desiring a deeper relationship with Him and experiences that grow my faith to maturity.

I will pray, "Lord, give me a deeper desire to know You and Your Word." Then, when difficult, stressful, frustrating things happen I cry out, "God, what is going on here? Can't You please stop this messy thing that is happening to me?!"

I ask for one thing, then when God begins His work in me - work that will transform my heart and give me that which I've prayed for - I quickly backpedal and begin praying for Him to just put everything back to normal.

It is difficult to remember that life's trials serve a purpose. Our struggles test our faith - we are supposed to draw close to God during such times. Experiencing this testing develops perseverance (determination, persistence, doggedness, diligence, resolution) in us. And perseverance grows us into mature Christ-followers. (Taken from James 1:2-4.)

Our trials serve a purpose. So often we ask God to provide what we want - health, peace, financial provision, a husband, children, and so on - without taking into consideration the possibility that God has a much bigger plan. Possibly, not receiving all that we ask for is the path to fulfilling His plan.

Lysa TerKeurst puts it this way, "We want the promises, but we don't want to get any dirt under our fingernails in the process." (Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl, pp. 201)

Yup, that's me. I want all of the good God assures me of in His Word, but I sure don't want to have to work for it. I don't want to have to struggle and experience pain and heartache in order to experience blessings.

Yet if I haven't experienced that pain, pushed through the struggles, clung to my faith in God, can I even recognize a blessing?

Having spent years in deep debt and financial struggle, I remember to thank God every time I can go to the grocery store and buy whatever I toss in the cart (even if the cart load includes a box of Lucky Charms). If it had simply always been this way - where we needed an item and could go out to get it - I would likely attribute the state of our finances to ourselves. But having experienced times of huge heartache and trials, I am all the more aware that any financial provision has been provided by our Heavenly Father.

I think this is what James means when he says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." (James 1:2) He's not telling us to be ridiculous and run through the streets exclaiming, "I praise you, Lord, that my child has a disability! I am filled with joy by having a special needs child!" Rather, he's instructing us to have a joy deep in our hearts, because of the knowledge that God is using our trials to mature us and draw us closer to Him.


  1. And sometimes the trials have nothing to do with us at all and instead are used to bring attention to someone else that God is everywhere, including our mundane or very challenged lives when we think no-one is looking. "If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all." (Oswald Chambers.) Your story and challenges may be meeting someone else's need to see God in their trials through you. God bless.

  2. Amen. I struggle with that too...I think we all do! Loved this post!

  3. I like how you connected the dots. I'm sure if I look back at things, I'll be able to pinpoint the why's a little easier. Thanks!


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