I lost my job in May. I would consider this a trial, wouldn't you?
In the beginning of June, my church started a weekend series in the book of James. It starts with how to react to trials and temptations: endure.
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
That in itself is encouraging, because endurance leads to perfection, completeness. There is a point to this struggle. And that brings hope. Hope does not disappoint (New American Standard), or put us to shame (New International). Why not? Becuase of the Holy Spirit in us.
Romans 5: 3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Those verses have been flitting through my mind these past weeks, like the gentle touch of a butterfly landing on a flower. A butterfly never lands but it trades pollen and consumes nectar. As God's Word lands gently on my spirit, I am left with something valuable, something that will be used in the creation of more beauty, for God's glory.
And then this morning I was typing notes for a gentleman in my church who will be teaching on the book of Revelation this fall. In chapter 2, Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus and Smyna, telling both groups of believers to endure the trials they face. The gentleman's notes cross reference to Acts, and so I looked it up.
Acts 14:22 tells us we MUST go through trials, not just that we WILL.
"...strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said."
And Hebrews 12:1-3:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I must not grow weary or lose heart. Christ Himself suffered for my salvation.
So I can endure this for His glory.
And I wait with eager anticipation to see the flower -- or a whole garden! -- that will come from these gentle words of hope.
If you would like to hear the sermons on James (I think we are coming up on week 4), use the link below.