Positive and Optimistic and (gulp) Troubles

Uhggg…troubles again.  Seems like some troubles are like what they used to call a broken record that plays over and over.  Now, they may be likened to that skip on a CD that messes up the song every time it is played, never goes away and is very annoying.  That’s what trouble is like.

Along come this guy named James.  He grew up with a perfect brother, and even though Jame’s brother never did anything wrong, a lot of trouble came his way.  And to James, the whole thing was annoying – at least for a long while.

Later in life after he had been through a whole lot of things, James tells us that is the exact opposite of our normal experiences.  He ways, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy”.  Huh?  What’s good about trouble.  The first thing we do when trouble comes normally is to pray or at least wish it would just go away and leave us alone.  James goes on to say, “for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4 NLT).

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stay put and endure something that is indeed troublesome.  This Scripture passage acknowledges that troubles come our way and not for the purpose of teaching us to dodge them or be in denial about their existence.  Then again we don’t want to be so focused on our troubles that they tend to define us…so what is James talking about?  Just hanging on until our troubles go away seems senseless.  So what is “joyful” about all of this?  

The joy isn’t due to the bad things that have happened.  The joy is in what is happening to our faith as we are being tested.  Endurance, patience and maturity are beautiful things and they do not happen unless we are put through hard and difficult things. That’s just the way it works.  The people whom we love and admire for having great characters probably became that way because they have suffered in some way.  If we can find even that small seed of faith to offer to God some trust when something bad happens, then He grows our faith and we become stronger – and more positive and optimistic.  This stronger faith allows us to see the hand of God working in even the strangest of circumstances.  The blossoming of our faith is precious to Him, and He delights in our growing trust of Him. And when we have found that the next time trouble comes and we are not shaken we realize our faith is stronger, we are more confident that God is going to faithfully take care of us no matter what, and that is reason for joy. 

And, by the way, did you know that the “perfect brother” of James was Jesus?  Yes, James learned these words from his life experiences.  James saw great and fearsome trouble turn into joy because of the outcome of Jesus’ life.   

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