Consider it all joy, my brothers when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Consider trials JOY? What was St. James thinking when he wrote this? Upon first glance at this verse we might be tempted to wonder if the beloved Saint put in a few too many prayerful “all-nighters” because surely he wasn’t serious about feeling joyful when the washer breaks, someone you love gets sick, the fuel pump on the car goes out or the sweet teenager in your home eats the last piece of peach pie you were hiding…I mean saving, in the back of the fridge! Joy…I don’t think so! And what about the really big stuff like losing your job or serious illness, surely he couldn’t have meant those things could bring joy. I suppose we could sit down and make a list of all the trials that have happened upon us in the past month and we would be overcome with many emotions, none of which would be joy!
The real meat of this verse is the part that explains what we can get in exchange for our trials…stronger faith and perseverance. Do you remember when you were young and you went home from school and complained about that boy who pulled your pigtails or the girl who annoyingly pointed out your every move to the teacher? The standard reply from home went something like this, “Well honey, if they didn’t like you they wouldn’t tease you.” This verse has a little bit of that flavor to it don’t ya think! God promised that we would have trouble…it is a guarantee, not a possibility. Even though we’ve read those words more than once, trials still seem to catch us by surprise. We sometimes even cop an attitude and think, “What, me…why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this difficulty?” We might even get really sassy and say, “Oh, pardon me Father, but you’ve made a mistake, I’ve already had 8 serious trials this month, I believe this current dilemma belongs to the neighbor or even better, the guy who cut me off in traffic this morning!”
The simple truth is, if He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t give us trials at all. Each difficulty or disappointment that knocks on our front door or barges right into our day is an opportunity to grow in trust or compassion or patience. When we throw up our hands in despair and say, “Ok God, I don’t know how to do this…I don’t think I’m strong enough for this, please guide me and guard me and love me through it!” we will grow in faith and perseverance plus we will be blessed with grace and mercy. I think what St. James was teaching us is that any time we surrender to the holy power of God, that’s joyful, and the blessing is more strength, more grace and more faith for the next thing! It seems strange to thank God for the lousy stuff but that is what we are called to do. We need to act like we are completely aware that He is about to do a might work through that trial if we would just stand back and let Him take us through it.
A Seed To Plant: The next time a trial comes your way, stop and thank God for it and ask Him to show you the joy in the situation. We’d love to hear your stories!
Blessings on your day!
(During the Easter Season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles daily. While lectoring at Mass this weekend I was reading from Acts and had to grin as I remembered this post from a few years past and thought it was worthy of a re-run…enjoy the wisdom of a seven year old!)
Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Luke 23:45
It was confirmed once again this week that being a first grade teacher has got to be one of the greatest jobs on the planet!! My little lovelies proved a very important point this week. They illustrated how essential it is to be curious, seek understanding and not be afraid to question.
During a religion lesson on Tuesday, I was reading from the Acts of the Apostles and we were talking about how the early Apostles were treated horribly by people who didn’t believe in Jesus. We were in the middle of a great lesson on discipleship and being brave enough to profess our faith and stand up to defend Jesus when a little lovely raised his hand and said, “Ok, wait a minute, I thought the Apostles were good guys.” I confirmed that they were and asked what he was thinking and he said, “Well I don’t think they were so great.” In a puzzled voice I said, “Tell me what you’re thinking” and he looked right in my eyes and said “Well if they were so great, why did they go around chopping up stuff and people?” I was stumped and asked him to tell me more and then as he talked the light went on…the little lovely thought I was reading from the AXE of the Apostles. Once we cleared that up he was able to look at the Apostles in a whole new way.
As I look back on Tuesday’s lesson, I continue to giggle and be amazed at the power of one little tiny word! I’m so glad my little lovely asked his question and didn’t continue to believe the Apostles were like villains on a rampage! I was humorously reminded of the power of words. We have such power to build up and tear down with the words we speak. I was also reminded that God’s word has enormous power as well but just like my little lovely, we don’t always have a clear understanding of all the words. The lesson from the small ones this week is; seek to understand.
More times than I can recall, I have heard people say they don’t read Scripture because they don’t really understand it. Some will say it’s so full of names and places that have no clear meaning they simply get frustrated and put it down. I’m gonna be completely honest and admit there was a time when I felt the same way. I’ll splash you with a little more honesty and say even now, I’ll sometimes read a passage and have to re-read a couple more times trying to find a clear meaning. I think the important thing is that we read His word and we remember the words from Luke’s Gospel and know that if we ask Him for understanding, He will open our minds. Another beautiful thing about spending time in Scripture is when we sincerely ask Him to touch our life with His words; we can read the same passage again and again and receive new blessings and understanding from the same words. There are dozens of study Bibles and resources to help you unlock the treasures found in God’s Word. When we have big decisions to make these days it’s all too easy to go to google for information…I’m going to suggest we go somewhere else first…Google God…right in your Bible. Ask Him to open your mind and open your heart so it will be ready for the truth and the love dripping from every page of His Holy Word.
A Seed To Plant: Spend time reading God’s word this week. If you have a burning question like my little lovely did this week, I challenge you to ask it and clear up your understanding!
Blessings on your day!
I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God!
I had a funny realization the other day when I had the middle lovelies and their kindergarten buddies at mass. One of the littles had a runny nose so the big buddy turned and asked me if I had a Kleenex they could give the kindergartener. I immediately began rummaging through my coat pockets pulling out Kleenex after Kleenex. I smiled and thought I must have looked a little like a magician pulling colorful scarves out of a hat. I finally came to one that was wadded but after careful inspection, I could tell it hadn’t been used. It looked a little rumpled but as I did the unfold test I could tell it was a “never been used” one. Feeling a bit successful at the fruitful Kleenex search mission, I handed it up with pride to the middle lovely. The little one looked a bit suspicious and after using it the child looked at their big buddy and said, “My mom buys the kind that come in the little rectangle package and come out folded nicely, I’m not sure I like this kind.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud!
As I looked down at the pile of crumpled white Kleenexes in my lap and began to tuck them all back in my coat pockets I realized my discipleship journey is a whole lot like that crumped pile of Kleenex! Here’s what I mean…
*When I forget to let God be in charge, things get all wrinkled, wadded and jumbled.
*Even when things get messy in the middle, all I need is a fresh corner to clean up my act.
*Things rarely come neatly packaged and perfectly stacked like the little rectangle Kleenex packages.
*Things don’t always have to look new, neat and tidy to work well, sometimes following Christ is just messy and unpredictable.
*God loves me even when I’m a rumpled mess and all I have left is a little room around the edges.
*God always wants to give a little extra love so I have some left to share.
*Just because I appear to be prepared, well packaged and all put together, it doesn’t mean I’m holy. Holiness focuses on the inside not the outward appearance.
*Just like those tissues in my pocket, God has a very specific purpose in my life and I sometimes have to do a little searching to find it.
*All too often, I have to dig around and try all the wrong things before I get to the good one.
*Finding a good Kleenex right before a sneeze is a great relief but it’s nothing compared to the relief in my life when I let God take control right before I try to do it my own way and goof it up.
Some people say they never really hear God speak to them; perhaps the problem is they just aren’t listening carefully because he can communicate his lessons and his love in the strangest ways; even in a pile of rumpled Kleenexes!
A Seed To Plant: Are you a fresh new package disciple or are you one who’s a little ruffled around the edges? Take some time in prayer this week and think about it…are you waiting until everything is in perfect order to invite him in or are you willing to invite him into your mess?
Blessings on your day!
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