17 July 2016
Reading: Isaiah 29-31; James 1
2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 MSG)
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to consider tests and challenges a gift from God. I tend to think of gifts as things that make me feel good, that satisfy a desire, that make me feel loved and appreciated. The thing that makes it possible to see tests and challenges as a gift from God is to understand and embrace what God really has in mind for us. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. God cares more about who we’re becoming than how we’re feeling at the moment.
Under pressure, our faith-life is forced out into the open. We get a heart-check and a values-check each time we face a test or a challenge. Good times display our personality; challenging times display our character. Every set of tests and challenges we face further develops our Godly character and our faith-life as we respond to it properly.
When difficult times come, my tendency is to pray, plan, and try everything I can think of to get out of it or get over it quickly. James says I need to allow the testing process to complete its work in me. Think about that! I just want to get it over as quickly and as painlessly as possible. God wants it to last exactly long enough that I will make the next significant forward step in my journey of faith!
What if I could learn to see life’s challenges as God sees them? If I embrace the test, and if I allow God to accomplish all he has in mind, maybe I won’t have to face that particular set of challenges again. Next time, it will be something new to accomplish a further purpose in my life. But at least the challenge won’t be wasted!
Father, I’m awfully sensitive to pain and discomfort. Help me to see the purpose and take the longer view of the things I face from day to day. I do want to become mature and well-developed, and for your purpose to be fully accomplished in my life. Please be patient with me, but don’t change your plan or schedule for my development just because I whine and complain. Amen!