Prayer is powerful, and we are to continue in it earnestly and vigilantly for all believers and all people, including ourselves so that the Lord can continually refine us (1 Pet 1:7). Sometimes there are people in our lives that we love, even Christian brothers and sisters, who continually hurt us. It’s difficult to want to pray for them when what we want to do is whine, complain and become angry instead.
There are a few people in my life that I love that hurt me fairly regularly. I’ve come to the conclusion that in these instances, the Lord is using the circumstances to show me this is behavior He doesn’t want me to have; it’s about what He wants to show me about me, not the other person. His Word confirms this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, 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)
It’s difficult to consider trials with joy. The Greek word for “consider” is hēgēsasthe, which is an accounting term relating to organizing or collecting things. James is implying that we should enter our hardships as deposits into the checkbook of our life, not withdrawals; he’s suggesting that we categorize that moment when assessing our life as a whole. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can control how we think about our circumstances, and how we choose to describe the moment to ourselves. We have the choice to say to ourselves: “This is a bad thing, but I will get through it. I will learn and be stronger. I will call the growth and strength worth rejoicing over, even while it hurts”.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs, Blessings by Laura Story:
When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win. We know that pain reminds this heart that this is not our home
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life; Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? What if trials of this life the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are your mercies in disguise?
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
God wants us to respond to trials—to the hard things in our lives—in a way that demonstrates our trust in Him because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. By definition, a trial creates a moment where we don’t know how things will work out. To persevere, we choose to allow the struggle to push us to turn to God for more help, to trust Him more deeply, and to believe that He will carry us through. Even when we’re heartbroken over what has happened, we can trust God to use it to make us stronger.
And we’re told we can be joyful in trial because the trial matures our faith. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 2:4) James uses the concept of endurance—steadfastness or perseverance—to describe the ability to trust God more and more. Each experience grants us a deeper, stronger level of trust in Him. What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy? “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33)
Trials should lead us to seek God’s will with gratitude because we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weakness and He has made the way for us to be able to go boldly before the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb 4:15-16). While we are pleading before the throne and repenting of all the Lord has shown us, let’s not forget to pray for those who have hurt us. God’s Word is clear how we are to treat others, no matter how they treat us. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rom 12:10-12).
Let’s follow the example of Epaphras, who labored fervently in prayer for other believers that they “may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col 4:12). “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b); and we are able to do this when we repent of our own prideful feelings.
Lord, I thank You for the trials You allow so that You are able to mature me in Christ, and expand my faith in You. Thank You for all the times the Holy Spirit has reminded me that You alone are faithful, and that I must trust in You alone. Thank You for expanding Your love in my heart to love and pray for others even when they hurt me over and over again. Lord, I am able to love and forgive because You first loved me. I know from experience that there’s always a brighter side on the other side of any trial if I seek You and Your will, and persevere in my faith because You are always with me. I’m never alone even if I feel alone. Thank You, Jesus!
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