So I’m reading these words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its’ work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) and I’m pondering the apparent contradictions contained in them. Contradictions which nonetheless, real life experience proves true.
First of all, the words joy and trial don’t seem to belong together in the same sentence. And yet there they are. But what stood out to me even more was the promise that these trials, this “testing of my faith” was going to leave me “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” How can this be? I thought hardships and trials were meant to tear me down and to leave me weaker but God says trials are to build me up and to make me stronger – not to take something from me but to give me something?
James says, “not lacking anything” – am I to understand that God’s purposes in my trials are accomplished not in taking something away from me but in giving me something – something of so great a value that I could not gain it in any other way? He wants to give me “all things” so that I will be “lacking nothing.”
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Maybe before my Heavenly Father can give me “all things”, the things that He knows I need, the things He wants me to have – maybe first He has to take from me what weighs me down, what keeps me from my purpose here, what keeps me from my destination – so that He can replace what He takes with what He knows I will need for where I am going, where He is leading me.
Trials are like the tides, washing away the trash, leaving behind treasure in the wake of waves retreating – taking from me what God knows I must let go of and bestowing on me treasures I did not know to ask for – how could I? I did not know such things existed. Such gifts His presence bestows – nameless, priceless, all sustaining – His peace that passes understanding, wrapping the untold treasures of my trials together – waiting for me to unwrap them, to uncover and discover the gifts He’s given while I persevered unaware . . . ( even perseverance being God’s gift – the gift the testing of my faith bestows)
Who would have thought – my trials are enriching me, not depleting me. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) My trials, disappointments and heartaches are not keeping me from my destination, my destiny – they are the true path to my destination. I will not arrive there in spite of them but because of them.
God wants me to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” and by His grace that is how I will one day arrive. My trials and troubles in this life are being used by my Heavenly Father to accomplish His good purposes in me. What my culture tells me is bad for me, God actually turns to good because my Heavenly Father cares for me and “works all things together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
For now I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
I will continue to experience more testing and more trials – “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) and in the end I will be lacking nothing . . . my Heavenly Father will make sure of that . .
sincerely, Grace Day