Today, I delved into my Bible study of “James” again – Week 1, Day 3. To this study I brought my new large-print Life Application Study Bible-NIV (LASB) that my husband gave me for Christmas – which I <3! My “Faith: A Bible Study on James for Women”, my Holy Bible KJV Red-Letter Edition given to me by the Baptist Women of Willow Drive Baptist Church for my high school graduation, my journal and my computer. Today, we studied the following scripture all (red comments in parentheses are my comments):
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters (fellow believers), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“My brethren, count it all joy (entire joy excluding trouble-groaning) when ye fall into divers temptations (trials); knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4 KJV)
“Entire joy” and “pure joy” made me think of the word “delighted”. Years ago I made a list of attributes I wanted to find in a husband (I hadn’t met Dennis yet). One of the items was that he would listen to me with “delighted attention”. In most of my 55 years, I haven’t listened to the Lord with delighted attention. So I did a search and found this verse in (Jeremiah 6:10) “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised and they cannot hearken; behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” One of the best ways to hear our Lord, is in the reading His word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
We are to respond to all trials and temptations with complete joy because of the positive work God can accomplish from the testing. God’s purpose for trials in a believer’s life is to test our faith – which must be more than words, it must be action. This is “letting go and letting God”. We have the opportunity to trust Him completely and to depend on Him, rather than depending on ourselves and our own merits. Our testimony from these trials will show non-believers the mercy of God to His glory! “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)
James doesn’t say if you face trials, but whenever you face them. We are to have a positive outlook (“consider it pure joy”) because of what trials can produce in our lives. James tells us to turn our hardships into times of learning. Tough times can teach us perseverance (also called patience and steadfastness).
To be steadfast and unmovable is to be spiritually grounded. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corin. 15:58) A steadfast person knows what they believe and can’t be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching”. (Ephesians 4:14)
“We can’t really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. It is easy to be kind to others when everything is going well, but can we still be kind when others are treating us unfairly? God wants to make us mature and complete, not to keep us from all pain. Instead of complaining about our struggles, we should see them as opportunities for growth. Thank God for promising to be with you in rough times. As Him to help you solve your problems or to give you the strength to endure them. Then be patient. God will not leave you alone with your problems; He will stay close and help you grow.” (From LASB) “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
As Christians, we CAN have joy during trials because the battle is the Lord’s (2 Chron. 20:15) and He has already won the victory. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We serve a risen savior! (I’ve been singing “He Lives, I Serve a Risen Savior” all morning!)
I then took an inventory of my current (and some are life-long) trials – and it seems to be a long list! I then offered them up in prayer to God and discussed them at length with Him (I’m a very conversational person in prayer–it’s how I talk). I gave Him each item, and then talked with Him about why I needed to give them to Him instead of holding them for myself. I’ll share two from my list. (1) My expectations that seem to never come to pass; and (2) My feelings of not being enough. In talking with God, I realize that both of those are just two sides of the same coin. My unmet expectations are hurts that I’ve held on to and have tried to have these needs met in other ways (usually unhealthy ways). I asked for the Holy Spirit to fill these “holes” in me so that I’m not trying to “fill” them in unhealthy and unspiritual ways, or worse yet, expecting loved ones to be able to “fill” them. And then I admitted to Jesus that I am NOT enough – not without Him. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corin. 12:9) And in re-reading our verse in James, I believe the Lord just showed me what I’ve been missing for years about those “holes”: “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
May we all give all the glory to God because He is in control and He has a plan!