Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2–3, ESV).
What circumstance right now would you categorize as being your lot in life, your load to carry? I don’t mean those general cares or responsibilities that are common to everyone. I’m talking about unique, personal situations that certain people have and other people don’t.
What’s yours? What’s your thing?
Maybe it’s a health issue—either yours or someone else’s in your close family. Maybe it’s an economic concern, a worry about your career, a limitation that’s keeping you from pursuing what you’ve always wanted to do in life. Perhaps your spouse is not saved, and it makes your whole relationship hard to deal with. Perhaps you have a child who hates God, which grieves you to the core and embarrasses you in some of your church and social circles. Perhaps you continue to struggle with a certain addiction. You hate it; you love it; you hate it. But in your right mind, you want it gone forever.
All I know about this burden of yours is that God is in control of it. And whatever it is—whatever He’s allowed into your life for at least this season of time—it’s something He is using to help grow your faith.
That’s what your thing is for.
“The testing of your faith.”
Now, most people look at these things—a frustrating struggle with infertility; an extended period of singleness; a profound setback in their financial circumstances; an especially strong-willed, exhausting child—and they see God at fault. Whether in word or merely in thought, they blame Him for His role in not making sure this didn’t happen to them. This is not right! You’re making the wrong call here! You BLEW this one! Murmuring and grumbling about their situation becomes as much a part of their lifestyle as where they live and what they drive. Like the Bible says of the ancient Israelites in the wilderness, they complain to Him and others “about their misfortunes”(Numbers 11:1).
But here’s what is not often taught or understood: In many respects, the most significant component of your lifestyle, of everyone’s lifestyle, is how you handle this type of adversity.
Nobody wants this to be true. Everybody wants to think they can blame their negative attitudes on the struggles they face in life, both the big things and little things that don’t go their way. In reality, however, your life is largely comprised, not of what’s happening or has happened to you, but by how you deal with it. I’m not meaning to negate or minimize the ordeals that press against you the hardest, these “trials of various kinds.” Neither am I suggesting that other people don’t enjoy certain advantages that perhaps you haven’t been able to start from and build on. But that’s not what’s important. Comparison is not your measuring stick.
Your thing is a real-life opportunity for God to grow your faith—and your steadfastness—through it.
- Ask the Lord to show you ways you may have slipped into bitterness or grumbling over difficult circumstances God is allowing you to walk through. Spend some time in confession and prayer about this matter.
- How have you seen your faith grow in other hard things you’ve been through?
Lord God, Your ways are higher. Your thoughts are deeper. Your wisdom is greater than anything I could ever conceive. When I look at what I know about my life, I see many things that distress me. But I know You’re overseeing them. I know You’re doing something important with them. And so I look at them differently now, because of You. Do what You desire with my life and my circumstances, as I yield to You in total faith and trust, and always in Jesus’ name, amen.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.