I was asked by someone to send links to sites where she could read devotionals yesterday and in the process of checking out the links on my phone, I started reading some of the devotionals on the site (great opportunity to just get some word in yes?)
One devotional in particular hit me strongly.
PleaseÂ read the devotional here and also read the comments, it will change your heart.
The devotional was in a nutshell telling believers who maybe going through trials to take their eyes off of “why me Lord”, to “what can this teach me” (paraphrased)
And the discussions that followed in the comment section is one I pray we have here someday; believers just opening up and sharing their hearts and struggles with each other.
I was struck by all the true life stories but the first one I saw in the screen shot below was the first one that gave me a punch below the belt.
A 73 year old woman who had never been married and has been struggling a bit with the questions and added to that, had eye defects she had to sort out medically.
I read other comments there too, some ladies with kids who had medical issues, ladies with homes broken – all Christian women trying to find God’s face in the midst of the trials.
And my heart was tugged on different number of things as I read and prayed.
The truth is that believers everywhere are struggling with different issues in their lives and family. ISSUES that have them screaming “Lord come through for me now, I can’t take it anymore!”
I felt the pain yesterday on that site.
But could there be more to these issues that believers face in their lives?
First of all, before we start, just stop and thank God for your life right now. You may think that your life isn’t perfect, but even in the imperfections, there’s always something to be thankful to God for.
Today’s more of a day of prayer anyway so we may as well start with thanksgiving.
But let’s lay the foundation before we go further in prayers…
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
I remember writing about this in my journal some days back but I had no idea that it would be the basis for today’s study. It was just laid in my heart.
Now, James says “consider it an opportunity for great joy…”
When he says “consider”, what does he mean?
It could translate into – “see it” “count/regard it as great joy”.
Why do I have to consider my trials as an opportunity for great joy?
Because of course I might want to see it differently but the Bible says, no, consider it as an opportunity for great joy.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
I remember writing a long version on this when the Spirit brought it to mind some months back but what I wrote in my journal recently was “you have joy when you tap into the spirit and that’s what God says you should function in when you are going through trials.
Because your faith will grow, your endurance will be strengthened needing nothing else. So God sees the end product of the trials and not the trials.
He sees what the trials are working in you and that end product is a cause for joy. What’s happening in your spirit is a cause for joy. If the trials knew that they could build your soul, they won’t even dare to come in the first place”
As much as good times are awesome, the sad thing about them is that they don’t really build your faith. They build your gratitude to God if you have been strong in faith before then and build forgetfulness of God in some others.
But bad times build your faith in God, so much so that good times cannot pull you out of God.
Think about it, it’s in the bad times you cry out to God with the whole of your heart. It’s in those times you know faith like no other – choosing to believe in what you may not see. It’s in those times you literally feel God’s love wrapping you up like a blanket.
And then I was thinking as I studied. Did Paul even experience any physical good time?
I mean, this man was so sold out, he decided not to marry – all the pleasure of sex and companionship? Zero.
He accepted his purpose to be bound in chains in prison as he spread the gospel to the gentiles.
And if you know me, you know that Paul trips me – his faith – his total offering of Himself to God.
“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.”
Emphasis on GLAD. (sometimes I read my Bible and just laugh out loud at the sheer craziness of it all and shout out “Paul!)
And look at Paul’s prayers in his letters, never ever did he pray for God to take away their trials, he only prayed for patience, perseverance, even in the midst of suffering.
He saw it all as being glad in sharing in God’s suffering. He meant what he said in Phillipians 3 which we studied last week here. (and you will probably be getting a deeper inkling into the contentment study we did before right? It’s not just about finances, but It would be too long to go into that here)
And I found out that it wasn’t just him, it was so with Peter and James (and probably other apostles too)
“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. … Dear friends, donât be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very gladâfor these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”
What did these apostles have that saw them through rough times that we don’t have today?
Of course, a right understanding of what their lives in Jesus entailed.
They knew it wasn’t going to be rosy.
Because of all they saw Jesus go through.
If the master could suffer like that, then how are they any different? (and to be fair, Jesus gave them&us warning on this)
So what are we missing out on in our faith walk today?
Is it a lack of spiritual stamina that we haven’t built?
Or taking our eyes off of Jesus?
Some of us are led away from spending time with God in word and prayer in our day to day lives, so when trials come in our lives as they will, we scatter like a pack of cards.
As I studied for this, I knew what God wanted to teach me. (aside from the lesson on praying for others)
As much as I don’t have issues in my life right now, I understand that God isn’t teaching me this for nothing. He is building me up for the future because the truth is, as long as I am in this world, trials will come.
And only a person with a pulsating relationship with Jesus and a proper understanding of our Christian walk in God will stand.
I am even getting to understand that God isn’t so much concerned about leaving us unmarried till we are 80 or till we die. I know this will be a hard pill for some of us to swallow (myself inclusive), but James tells us what is important in this walk of faith – increasing in faith, being perfect and complete in God, needing nothing. And if your waiting on God for a spouse till you are grey and old will do that, then guess what? God will make you wait!
That’s a tough truth to even type through my fingers right now believe me.
But I am getting to understand that what God is calling us unto is Himself first of all before any other thing.
That is “Frances(feel free to replace with your name too), let me strip you bare right now and take you through a tough journey in me, will you still latch unto me? Will you still hold onto my hands and never let me go?”
Bad times will come, but will you build a solid foundation in God now so that you can stand whatever maybe later on?
Can we draw near to God now and not string Him along only in bad times? It’s for our good. Only when our roots grow deep down into God can we indeed “consider trials all joy” when they come.
As I read the comments on the devotional that inspired this study, I also knew that we must pray.
So many believers are going through trying times – trying times threatening to drown their faith.
Paul told Timothy in 1Timothy 1:2
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”
I prayed then but would love to extend this to us all.
We have to pray for the body of Christ in unity and love even though this is an online body on a blog. Still, we are connected by real hearts behind the eyes reading this post.
Remember when we did this study on interceeding for others?
We will do the same thing today.
Not just for today, whenever you remember this post, pray for believers world wide.
If you are going through trying times, leave a comment below and we will put you in prayers by name (all the better) and in the absence of such, simply pray this prayer below/as you are led to pray…
Lord, help us, help believers all over the world. Those who are struggling – going through trials in their homes, families, jobs… Lord strengthen us, give us grace to go through the trials.
Hold us up with your hands.
Help us to fix our eyes on you.
Overwhelm us with an awareness of your love that never runs dry – let us see you even through the tears on our faces.
Thank you Jesus, in Jesus name we have prayed, amen.
Would you love to share anything that was laid in your heart with us as you studied along with us?
Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you too. I do not take the fellowship of believers for granted.
Till our next Online Bible Study,
P.S – Cynthia, I saw your comment on the last Bible study, thank you!
I’m working on writing on tips on studying the Bible like you asked(do we get a yay from everyone too?)
Be warned though, my own way of studying the Bible isn’t clear cut. Uhm, you will understand when you read the post 🙂
P.P.S – Do I still have to convince you to subscribe to blog and be a part of our blog family? We would be glad to have you join us for real 🙂
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