“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 NLT
I used to crinkle my nose at this verse when things weren’t going my way. How can the comparison between two conflicting adjectives like “trials” and “joy” even be in the same sentence when we face cancer?
Or heart failure?
Or some other debilitating disease?
During the darker days of my illnesses, I needed further explanation to help me wrap my head around this unconventional idea.
I translated “The testing of your faith develops perseverance,” as:
“God will use this uncomfortable situation to make me stronger.”
What I’ve learned over the years is that somehow God enables us to develop this super-natural skill of pressing on when we combat the disease attacking our body. That’s when our eyes open to a fresh idea we never knew existed.
We’ve decided we can push on.
That He must see something in us to allow this power to shine through.
Don’t get me wrong.
My health battles led me through many draining days where I questioned why God would allow me to walk such a path? But let’s be honest. Without these darker valleys, I wouldn’t have the same appreciation for the positive moments that I do now.
My outlook changed on those days I decided I wasn’t going to give up.
And neither will you.
You are a survivor.
Repeat this aloud as you live life focused on today. That’s all. Nothing else.
Because healings happen.
And in the meantime, while God is using your local physician to revive your body, He is also restoring your hope. This is, I believe, why He reminds us to consider it pure joy, because He knows we won’t instinctively feel this way.
To consider something means to: “to think about carefully.”
So, what are you thinking about?
I can tell you this. When your health returns, you will review the events you trudged through, and wish you would have believed for your healing sooner. I know I can only share from experience how I wasted so much stinking time worrying—time I’ll never get back.
The truth is, I don’t want you to fall for the same trap.
Joy comes when we consider the mini-victories we’ve already won, instead of hyper focusing on the distance we still need to go.
If I could, I’d Southern-Baptist-side-hug you right now and tell you the good that will come from this mess. But for now, I hope you find a way to reflect on the glimmer of hope in your situation.
Did this circumstance bring your family closer together?
Did this sickness slow you down to appreciate the things you possibly wouldn’t have seen otherwise?
Did it help you realize the insignificant things you can let go of, guilt-free?
I’d encourage you to write down in a journal or scratch piece of paper what God revealed after this morning devo, and date it. Then a few months from now, pull this this entry out and see what has changed. I’m sure your spiritual muscles will have grown a sturdier faith you never knew you had.
I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago.
And you won’t be, either.
It took walking through hardship for me to realize this truth tucked in this verse.
Typically, healthy people struggle to understand the heaviness you carry, that is until they hit a wall, and flounder in fear of where to turn. On that day, I pray your new resilient strength reaches out and encourages them to fight, knowing the outcome will make them as spiritually courageous as you are.
Yes. Consider this cruddy season a joy as you persevere, because this will produce a strength you never knew you had. As you trust God with your situation, He will infuse you with supernatural stamina, despite the difficulties, much like James 1:2-4 promises.
What did God reveal to you while you read this morning?
Pray and ask God what He wants you to recognize today:
“The Lord is saying, “I’ve got big plans for you, huge plans. I’ve got plans not for this life only, but for eternity. Therefore I may need to turn up the heat a bit to work out the impurities. But my hand is on the thermostat. I know exactly what I’m doing. Although at the present moment, it might not be easy, you’ll thank me for the next billion years to come because what I’m after is to see the reflection of my face in your life.”
~ Jon Courson, Jon Courson Application Commentary, New Testament
“At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”
~ Isaiah 60:22b NLT
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:8&9 NLT
As you can see, I’m trying to release these devotionals every few days. My prayer continues to be that these words bless someone who needs this. I’m praying for each person who reads this devotional, that you will sense God’s presence in your life today.
Side note. If you have a second, will you pause and say a pray for my family? I’d certainly appreciate this today!
As always, if you find a typo or you had to read something twice to understand what I was saying, please comment and let me know. I’ll even include your name in the acknowledgement section of this devo once I’m finished writing the book. 🙂
In His hands (always),
PS To subscribe to the blog to receive future posts, click here. To send me the biggest virtual hug, click on this underlined link to leave an honest review on Amazon of When God Intervenes. Best. Gift. Ever. (I know. That was a shameless plug. But I’ve been told that reviews help guide others to the book. I’d love to encourage as many recovering patients as I can and spread a little hope. As always, I’m so thankful for you guys. xoxo)