Growing in Jesus

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 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)

I bet there aren't too many of us that actually think trials are good for us, much less that God could actually allow more than a few of them to come our way. Trials are meant to test our faith - period. Within the trial comes the chance to really show who it is we serve and what it is we believe. In other words, we are showing God we put him first and rely upon him for all we have need of in our lives. It is in the midst of the trial that our 'true self' emerges. It is within the trial that we see how much we rely upon ourselves through the knowledge we have amassed, or our ability to 'reason it out' on our own.

These trials may not be easy, but they actually put our faith in God to the test. They aren't enjoyable - we don't actually welcome them with open arms. Within the trial, without us even realizing this is happening, our faith is put to the test. The test actually reveals how much we will lean into God, and it often reveals areas where we have been too prideful to allow God to do any work. There are always life lessons to be learned, and believe it or not, the most frequent place we learn them is right smack in the middle of the trial. The good news is that we can be quick learners. The bad news is that sometimes we need to repeat the lesson because we didn't get it the first time!

The other thing we need to keep in mind is that trials are 'assured' - in other words, they cannot be avoided forever. We will eventually face a trial that will begin to uncover things within us that need exposure. Either we embrace the work God is about to do through that trial, or we resist it and assure ourselves we will face it again, just in a different way. Sometimes the trials are quick and relatively painless. At others, we have a lot of angst and struggle because the trial is about to expose something much deeper and that has been affecting our heart way too long. God isn't trying to 'hurt' us, but it may hurt a bit. Just because it hurts doesn't mean he isn't with us in the midst of it!

The goal of the trial is that we may actually grow a little - leading us to the place where our faith doesn't lack anything. Sometimes we don't realize what is lacking until we are in the trial. We think all is well within our hearts and minds, but the trial helps to reveal where it is we haven't seen growth yet. Maybe there are buds of growth, but the trial will help the roots of that growth take hold and go deep. Remember this - maturity isn't instant - it is slow and steady - it is never-ending. Just sayin!

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