Friday, September 14, 2012

Profiting from Trials

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

(Here's another from the old journal of mine that I found while cleaning this week.)

James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

You hear people joke from time to time in Christian circles and say things like "Don't ask God for patience." It's clear they have discovered that asking for patiences comes along with a series of trials that will work to produce patience and perseverance in us. 
Sometimes it is having to wait for an answer to a prayer. Sometimes it is having to put up with difficult people. Sometimes we make a big mess due to poor choices or sin and it takes a while to clean it up and often time to learn to deal with the consequences. In any case joy is not based on circumstances. Joy is a gift and is always available to us in Jesus. 
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  
 Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I think the tendency when going through difficult times and trials is that we become completely focused and wrapped up in them. Its like all we can see is the giant problem. It is in those times we need to turn our eyes to Jesus.  "Walk closely with me Lord, anoint me with your joy. " I am convinced that if we find the secret of possessing His joy than we will walk through trials and we will gain patience. I think if we focus on being or becoming patient we will be frustrated. Patience is the result of joy, thankfulness and abiding prayer. It is in and thorough difficulties that we are afforded the opportunity to learn to trust and to look to Jesus and know him more intimately.  I have found that I can focus on the problem and be critical and discouraged. Or I can focus on the stuff that is working and be thankful and in so doing I am demonstrating that I trust God's timing and ability to deal with the things that are not working.

Joy is a gift, thankfulness the attitude that I choose. Abiding prayer is the privilege of being in relationship with Jesus. If we have joy, thankfulness and abiding prayer we will find we are able to be patient. Maybe it is knowing that we are not alone. That Jesus is active and present in my circumstance. I suppose also that often in trials there has been sin either in creating the trial or in how we have chosen to deal with it. I have discovered that sin does separate us from God. Our shame and guilt can become a massive barrier that keeps us from His presence. Confess your sins quickly. Don't put off taking the time to talk to God about what is going on in your heart - he already knows but he waits for you to be willing to share it with him.  

Keep short accounts with God. Be quick to repent or to forgive. He is willing to forgive you and be with you through the trials and circumstances that you are presently facing. We get into trouble when we let sin keep us from God. We become easy targets for the enemy during those times. Some people stop going to church when they have messed up or sinned. They don't feel they are good enough to go to church and be in God's presence. The truth is that when things are a mess we need is when we most need God and to be around people who will love us and point us back to Jesus. We need to be reminded that he accepts us and waits for us to invite him to help us. His kindness leads us to repentance. Often it is his kindness shown through his people. 

Lord help us to be people who will love others when they are struggling. Help us to be people who will pray and speak the truth in a loving way. Let the word convict and your people be your agents of love, grace and mercy. Thank you Lord for the trials that are producing patience and perseverance in our lives. Help us to experience your joy as our strength, to choose to be thankful and to abide with you in prayer. Help us to know you more intimately as a result of the journey we are on and the things we are presently facing.

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