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.What jumps out at you from this passage?
For me, the word "deficient" leaps off the page. In life, in faith, in all things, the LAST thing I want to be is deficient, insufficient, or less-than. It would seem that my best defense against being found lacking is to allow the difficulties of this life do their work, to not try to get out of trials, and to allow them to make me mature and well-developed. I don't know if, in the midst of things, I would consider pressure and hardship a gift. Yet after the fact, I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am without having had certain unpleasant life experiences.
Without a special needs child, I would have little compassion for the pain, heartache, and utter exhaustion so many parents are walking through. Because I had to fight, research, and advocate for Braeden, I feel equipped to help and encourage other parents to ask for what they need.
Had I not walked through the valley of the shadow of depression, I suspect I would be unsympathetic (and even judgemental) of others in need of counselling and medication to treat their mental health issues. Instead, I find my heart burdened to pray for my friends caught in the mire of emotional anguish.
If I had not been a teenage disaster, not experienced the loss of two pregnancies, not been a fatherless girl desperate for a man to love me, if I had not had times of plenty and times of very little, and not had empty and angry painful years in my marriage... Who would I be? In spite of the pain that each of these experiences caused me, I do not believe I would want do go back and do life again without them. For then I would be a woman who knew not the scandalous grace offered through Christ, the freedom found in offering forgiveness, the love of a Father who never leaves, the beauty of a marriage restored, the bonds of friendships soldered over shared sorrows...
What about you?
Does this version of the passage give you any new insights about your own faith walk? Looking back, can you see how certain trials have shaped and matured you? Are there struggles that you have come through, that you can now genuinely say were a "sheer gift?"