I was in the ninth week of leading my Surprised by the Healer study group, and the next chapter was “Discovering a Gift in Your Pain. I was beginning to grasp what it meant to “count it all joy” but there was one more word I had to understand—that word “gift.” Here is a different version of the memory verse for that week:
Consider it a sheer GIFT, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. James 1:2 (The Message)
Think of tests and challenges as a gift? Again, when I think of a gift from the standpoint of a birthday or anniversary, it is an “occasion for joy” but to think of pain or a trial as an occasion for joy?
I found the Greek word for trial, “connotes trouble, or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy and happiness in someone's life.” The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person's nature or that thing's quality. God brings such tests to prove—and increase the strength and quality of—one's faith and to demonstrate it's validity.
When I am going through a tria,l I can't see how it will increase the strength and quality of my faith; but I am thankful that God knows and is in control. Knowing that fact is a GIFT to me. Trials will come my way as long as I am on earth. But as I look back on the trials God has brought me through, it helps me to have more joy, that “calm delight,” as I face the next trial. I can trust God's Word, go to the God of all comfort, casting all on HIM (1 Peter 5:7).
I didn't stop there. In looking at yet another translation from Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life, I love what it says in James 1:2 (The Voice).
Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them.
The bottom line for me: I can have calm delight when I go through pain and trials because of who I look to. I don’t look at the circumstances of my life, but to the fact that God is with me. He never change. I have salvation through Him, and as a result, I will be in eternity with Him.
In James 1:3 it says “the testing of your faith.” Testing could also be translated “the approved part” of one's faith. It is not just the tested faith that produces endurance; it is the approved or genuine part of one's faith that produces maturity. So as Paul says in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize,” and if I look at James 1:3-4 (The Voice) :
IF you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete and wanting nothing.
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