Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (James 1:2-3 NLT)
As I was walking my dog this morning I was listening to James MacDonald preach about this verse. Of course, I’ve heard this verse before, but it’s been a long time since I had thought deeply about it.
James didn’t say “If troubles come your way” he said when. The fact is that God will allow seasons of trouble, trial or testing into our lives and he has a purpose for this.
peirasmos – a putting to proof by experiment or experience
When is a word with no choice attached. There simply isn’t anything you can do about when, but consider is a word of opportunity. It’s a word that invites me to change the way I think.
Perception is reality
The way I look at the world, the way I feel about the things that are happening to me and around me are shaped by the way I think. Sometimes it feels as though I have no choice about my thoughts, that they simply arrive into my consciousness, good and bad, welcome and unwelcome. But the Bible tells me different. It says that I have an opportunity to consider.
hēgeomai – to lead, that is, command
I need to lead my thoughts, command them in a certain direction. I have to lead them away from things like
- “God is punishing me for my mistakes by making me sick”
- “My usefulness as a person is over”
- “I will never get better, only worse”
I have to lead my thoughts to the truths of God’s word like
- “God has already forgiven me for my failures”
- “God has a purpose and is working all things for my good”
- “The testing of my faith produces endurance”
- “Christ’s power is made perfect in my weakness”
Many years ago, I came to the realization that if Christ’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, then I should strive to become as weak as possible. Of course, I didn’t mean that I should get sick with a terrible disease, yet that is what has happened. And now, there is an opportunity for me to lead my thoughts to the truth that this testing is a chance to let the Holy Spirit produce endurance in me. Ultimately, God’s concern is not my comfort in this body that will one day fall away but rather how my soul is transformed into His likeness.