James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” NASB
I quoted this passage to a man going through a very difficult time hoping it would encourage him. I gave him a mini-sermon on the development of patience, persistence, endurance, and constancy and told him that he should “rejoice” in his trials. He looked at me incredulously and said, “You want me to do what?”
He was looking for sympathy and when out of empathy I gave him this counsel he was stunned. He looked me squarely in the eyes and asked, “Preacher, do you do that?” I confess, I was not expecting that response and had to stop and think about it for a moment before answering! The truth is I was not! It was one of those do as I say not as I do moments that sent me to my prayer closet and a place of repentance. I cried out to the Lord and asked, “Lord, how can I do this? How can I change my outlook and elevate my faith to the point that this is a reality in my life?”
My problem was I knew it was the truth because it was God’s Word and God’s Word is truth! I knew it was the pathway to freedom and victory in difficult times! I knew it was the way to elevate my level of trust and confidence in God and His ability and willingness to keep His promises! I knew it was a way to prevent the devil from gaining a foothold or a stronghold in my life!
I knew those things but looked at my action and reaction to trials and realized that I had spent more time focusing on the problem than the problem solver. I was focusing more on the problem than the promise. I was allowing my emotions to control me rather than bringing every thought into captivity and making them obedient to Christ. I was looking earthward rather than heavenward. I had to confess I was Guilty!
From that event, I determined to bring humor into every situation to the degree that it was tasteful. I found that laughing brought a different perspective and allowed me to rest in the confidence that “this too will pass.” It enabled me to overcome very difficult times in my life.
Recently, I became aware that I had drifted back into the mind-set of “wrong focus” and have fallen on my face before God in repentance. I cried out to the Lord the words of David in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I can tell you that it has made a difference and I have made the choice to rejoice!
I frequently respond to trouble saying, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Seriously, if the trial were to kill me, I go home early and gain the ultimate victory. If it does not kill me, I have an attitude of gratitude and can smile, sing, rejoice, joke, and enjoy life during the trial. Therefore, my declaration to the devil is, “Be gone you are not welcome in this house!” Yes, I want you to “rejoice” in the midst of your troubles! Try it you just might like the results.
May God bless you as you enjoy this day in Him!