'Storms and Trials' by Grace Dean
You probably know what has and is happening to Cottonwood. You probably know about the hailstorm (or maybe even felt it). And you probably know that we have literally been through a storm and now going through many, many trials.
I’m sure many wonder why this has all happened, even I myself wonder the reason for the disaster! However, I’m not writing this blog to give you the reason, but rather remind you and the church.
Can you recall James 1:2-4 off the top of your head? Well I had to look it up… But that’s not my point! My point is this: “2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)” Now, does that sound familiar? Anyway, let’s pick this to pieces…
Probably the hardest thing to do when you’re going through a struggle, is finding happiness. But note that joy isn’t the same as happiness! Joy is God given (Gal 5:22-23). Since we often think joy is synonymous with happiness, we may need some definitions. Happiness is having a good feeling. While the biblical meaning of joy can be strength, eternal gladness, being blessed and probably more just depending on how you interpret the word in Scripture. However, all theses definitions do flow with the verse if you examine it carefully. Now, the first verse of James 1:2-4 says to “Consider it pure joy,” that you have trials. Not as easy as it sounds. However, since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, we can’t “have it” by our own power. We’ll need God’s help! So, you may not have happiness during a trial, but with God’s help, you sure can find and have joy!
In verse 3, it reads, “because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Now this is the reason for the “trials of many kinds”: To test your faith! Here’s a classic example: Do you know how raw gold is refined? By melting the metal at high temperatures. The reason for doing this is not so that you can now mold the gold, but that you burn and separate all the muck that is present. So, think of yourself as the gold. Because we are born sinners, we’re all dirty and filled with all sorts of impurities. So sometimes you may go through a blazing period (usually metaphorically) in your life, but despite the pain you may go through, you are actually becoming stronger and purer in Christ! Sometimes your trials may teach you patience; sometimes it’s tolerance towards others, or maybe even just teaching you to hold your tongue!
Finally, in the verse 4, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Now this part’s meaning may not be as obvious as the other two. However, by the word “let”, we know that this verse calls for action. Let me say it like this: if you try to accomplish some goal, let’s say a New Year’s resolution, but then give up the next month (like we usually do), what’s the point? If you start it, then finish it! That’s how I see verse 4. While we are being refined as believers in God’s Furnace of Faith, don’t jump out till God’s done purifying you! If you jump the gun, you’re not going to be “mature and complete, not lacking in anything”! So let “perseverance finish its work”.
So even though our trials may be costly or depressing, stressful or scarring, exhausting or frightening, we all have to remember to have joy, persevere and keep persevering till the very end. And another thing to always keep in mind is this: There is a reason for everything, and if God is behind it, everything will be okay.