My brothers and sisters,
when you have many kinds of troubles,
you should be full of joy,
because you know that these troubles test your faith,
and this will give you patience.
Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do.
Then you will be perfect and complete...
James 1:2-4 (NCV)
I love this Scripture, as it tells me perhaps more than any other that God has not given up on me when I go through trials... He actually designs them... just for me and where I need a little tweaking here and there to end up the person He desires. Not that I find them joyful at the time, quite the opposite... I normally want to stomp my foot and shout out at Heavenly Places.
Yet, when I have passed through the trial, I look back and see how priceless was the experience I disliked at the time. There is another section of Scripture which talks about faith, patience, experience, and hope... words I think of often when weary of the road I am traveling at the time.
For I know I can look back and see how keeping up the faith (often by just keeping on without giving up)... with patience... provides the experience of coming through the trial... and the hope that all will be well in the end.
Of course, when one is walking by sight and not trusting in Him... the result of any trial would be fear or dread rather than hope. For once we have come through a difficulty... be it small or enormous... we start to wait for "the next shoe to drop"... wondering what is next and will we survive it this time.
If the news headlines are not filtered through the promise of the Word, we tend to be full of fear instead of faith. When the rumors of further cutbacks at work come around, we feel the fear rise up within. When the doctor's report shocks us and our world becomes upside down... we must have the Trust needed at the time... that Rock of our Salvation to stand on.
I become tense when there is too much to do and the fatigue is already overwhelming or the needs are more than the bank account shows this month. For it is human nature to be concerned instead of believing God, especially when results of prayer in the past have not always been the yes we desired.
Sometimes He "just" helps us through and gives us the grace for each situation. There are trials we live in each day of our life, knowing we are not just passing through but depend on His mercies being "new every morning" to walk our journey... chronic illness, disabled children, mental or emotional illness in our family, living in an area of extreme poverty on purpose to minister to others, having a vocation which takes us daily into the worst the world offers such as law enforcement or social work or an emergency room, serving in the military in a war torn world... there are many reasons many of us face possible lifetime trials.
How do we make it through in such a way which we can show God's love and compassion to others? We realize we take life one day at a time (and in times of extreme stress... one minute at a time). We ask ourselves if we have prayed about a situation and ask God's help. We ask for His peace in the midst of the storm and for a gift of joy in the midst of grief and sadness.
We give Him our expectations of life and replace them with His strength. What if we don't know Him enough to ask? We first make certain He lives within by asking for all sins to be forgiven and accepting Christ as the Son of God who came to redeem a fallen world. We read His Word, which tells us Who He is, Why He came, How He helps us... and all the rest of the story.
In particularly difficult times, I can only stay in the Psalms and soak in their wisdom and comfort. It often helps to play favorite music which strengthens the soul... be it Christian in nature or familiar Classical songs or my favorite Celtic Women CD or music sung to me by my mother or music from a beloved movie... while I often prefer Christian music when down, I must admit to being cheered by the best the world has to offer, too.
Sometimes when standing on the edge of an emotional cliff, I will re-read a favorite book or pop a relaxing movie in the DVD player. I have a few favorite Bible teachers on TV and radio whose wisdom often calms the soul.
Sometimes I will work in the garden or change around my teacup collection or bake a pie or knead bread or declutter the house or pet a cat or sweep the porch... all to take my mind off of seemingly impossible situations. I have friends like BB (whom I have actually never met in person!) that I know understands my heart through years and years of friendship who may receive a simple e-mail with few words as she knows them all already.
But mostly, I talk to another Friend... and I don't mean down on my knees because frankly, they aren't what they used to be. I just talk to my Friend as I go through my day, sometimes out loud but often to myself. He is always there and never too busy to listen. How wonderful is that old song... What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear... Oh what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.
Now... time for a break which includes much rest and a few adventures. I may just let the Tookish side out for awhile. I'll return in a couple of weeks!