Over the past 6 months God has continued to bring the book of James into my bible study time. It’s such straight forward book, yet the instructions are very difficult to do. I have had the hardest time getting over the 2nd verse- “take joy in your suffering,” or “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” Seriously? How do you do that? That is my first reaction, there are just times where it doesn’t make sense, and it’s really hard to see the bigger picture, and it’s really hard to consider a trial “joy,” because I just don’t want to go through it, because it’s uncomfortable, it hurts, and it doesn’t make sense.
I hear what God is saying in James- “these trials will make you, (or them) strong. These trials accomplish things unseen, for the greater good.” I hear that, yet it’s hard for me to make sense. This is something that I have been struggling with off and on for awhile now, trying to understand why we are to consider our trials joyful, when it goes against nature, and it goes against any feeling we may have. The funny thing is, God showed me in a sense what He means, the other day in the doctors office.
My son had been sick with strep for an entire week, missed school, missed trick or treating on Halloween, he was in bed feeling awful, the antibiotics he was currently on were not working. I took him back to the doctor, both of us ready for some help to get him well. The Dr. said he needed to get a shot, and that is when his freak out began. This boy is very afraid of shots, and has been his entire life. His little brothers can get shots no problem, but he has had to be pried from underneath a chair, he’s kicked and hit nurses before, and he screams and cries. The office knows this, and they usually send in three to four nurses when it’s time to give the shot. This time, just one very strong and straight forward nurse came in. We had to pick my 65 pound flailing son up and put him on the table, despite his protests, hold him down, promising him this was for his good, while he screamed and cried, “why? I don’t want to get a shot!!!” After it was over, it took him a good 20 minutes to calm down, he was mad at me, and continued crying. Finally, I talked to him.
“Why are you so mad?”- me
“because you made me get a shot.”- Blue
“I made you get a shot, because I trust your Doctor, and she knows that this medicine will make you well. You’ve been sick and miserable for a week, even though the shot hurts for a little bit, it helps you get better, so you won’t be sick anymore.” – me
“Medicine shouldn’t hurt.”- Blue
“It hurts a little, but helps a lot.”- me
He accepted this, but kept pouting… I kept thinking.
Wow, this is exactly what God has been trying to show me over and over through James. It’s the perspective He’s trying to give me. These things, these trials, hurt for awhile, but they are accomplishing something good, unseen, and we are to trust that. So much so, that we take Joy in the trial. Trusting that God knows what He’s doing, trusting that even though something hurts, is uncomfortable or even scary, it will accomplish something bigger and better in God’s hands.
How many times have I somewhat acted like Blue? Freaking out about something that is so unfair, it seems, why should I have to go through this, why should those good people suffer? How many times have I asked why? How many times have I said, “your plan shouldn’t hurt?”
All the while, God is working. He is working it for good. He is strengthening, maturing, driving out negative attributes, causing something bad to work to something good…. things we may never understand. All of the bible is full of stories of people who have to wait forever to recieve God’s promises, or have to go through hardships to be strengthened. None of God’s people in the bible had a perfect life that went perfectly. So, why are trials so shocking to me? Why do I expect things to go well, and fair, and right? I need that perspective shift. I need to see that things are going to happen to me, to my family, to people in my life, and I will ache, and hurt and cry and be uncomfortable, but I need to see and trust that God is working it out…. for good. Even if it doesn’t make sense to me, even if I think God’s plan shouldn’t hurt, at all. That is trust, that is faith. Saying, “this hurts, and I hate this circumstance, but I trust You God, You are going to turn this around, You are working this out for good.”
“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 it’s work so that you may be mautre and complete not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him” Romans 8:28