I like the book of James in the Bible… It’s probably in the top 5, outside of the Gospels. It’s one of the books that sorta just flips open automatically now because I’ve read it so much. I love that it’s a book about doing the Word, rather than just knowing it. Today I didn’t even have to open it, I already knew the verse I needed to act out. James 1:2.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”
I don’t know about any of you, but that’s not my first reaction when I face a trial of any kind. I like to complain or worry or cry. Giving into the natural response to hardship somehow makes me feel… justified. I used to tell people that I love the rain because it’s the only type of weather where you can ever just feel how you feel. If it’s sunny out and you’re sad then you look like a jerk. If it’s rainy and you’re happy, you look like an optimist. But if it’s rainy and you’re sad, it just fits…
Well, it started raining this week.
I started another post on Sunday night, expecting a different outcome to some routine tests at the doctor I was going in on Monday for… But then on Tuesday I had to go back in for a biopsy. (I know this sounds vague, but I’m still hoping to post the other blog shortly). I have to wait a whole week to hear back from the lab.
Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m a hypochondriac. I worry and I let my imagination run wild to the point where I’m wondering what people will say at my funeral… ok, I’m not THAT bad… but close. When I am attacked physically, my faith hits a wall. I guess satan knows me pretty well, too.
So when James told me to consider it “pure joy” when facing this trial, what does that really mean? What does that look like? Well, for one, it means to lay hold of the promises of God. The Bible says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” so I guess I have to remind myself what God has promised me, which is to have perfect health, and to be the head and not the tail. But more than just knowing those promises, I can have pure joy in the fact that I know who holds the victory in this battle. For every trial I’ve ever faced in my life, when I give it over to God, He’s batting 100. I also know that ultimately, satan doesn’t win.
I called my campus pastor on Tuesday afternoon, almost in tears, and explained to her what was going on. I told her that I was sure I was going to be fine and that I just needed prayer for the faith to take captive every negative thought. All she said was, “Even if it’s the worst, trust God.” She knows me well. Even if it’s as bad as my wild imagination thinks it is, I still need to trust God… and I’d even go further and say I need to praise God. Maybe that makes me sound like a crazy Christian, or some kind of fake Bible-thumper that’s always telling people what they should do, but never doing it themselves… and maybe that’s true. I know the Word, but how often do I do it?
If I’m honest… not until it’s “the worst.”
Maybe this next week, waiting on the results, is God’s wake-up call for me. Maybe He is using this time to see what I’m going to do. Am I going to be like Job or like Job’s friends? Am I going to face this trial with the joy of the Lord in my heart, so that I can grow to maturity in my faith? What good is it for me to know God and what He can do, if I never have to trust Him to actually follow through? Isn’t that when we get into trouble as Christians? When we become hearers of the Word, rather than doers…
So tonight, I’m deciding to be thankful for the opportunity to test my faith. I know that I can smile because I already know who holds the victory.
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 its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.