Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Work In Progress

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:2-5 (NJK) 
I've been a Christian for forty-three years, and yet (sigh), I'm still a work in progress.  The last ten months have been challenging with several trials thrown at our family.  (A close relative attempted suicide and I'm the one who found her unconscious in her home,  we faced a serious financial crisis, my husband's brother died after a short bout with leukemia, we changed churches after being with our dear pastors and friends for 28 years, and my sister almost died a couple of weeks ago.)  I have to admit it, I did my share of whining and complaining and fretting and doubting.  There were days when my strength and peace seemed completely depleted.  I didn't always "count it all joy" when I fell into these various trials.

I don't think God was asking me to be happy because my brother-in-law died or that my sister almost died.  I don't think God was expecting me to rejoice because my bills weren't being paid.  I do believe He wanted me to recognize His workings in my family's life and be joyful in the fact I was (and am) secure in His hands.
You know, maybe a little glimpse of heaven would help me better understand the "count it all joy" thing mentioned in the above verses.
Father:  I know these trials will hurt some, and yet, I'm excited because the spiritual maturity will be worth Lollie's momentarily suffering.  As the humans say, "No pain, no gain."
Son:  I agree, Father.  Even though it will be painful, I believe this will help her put things into better perspective and bring the fruit of patience, grace and mercy into her spirit.  Her compassion for others facing the same challenges will grow immensely.
Holy Spirit:  I will not be the author of these trials but will allow Satan to stir the waters for a while; however, I will walk with her offering comfort and strength.
Father:  Lollie will initially be reactionary but she'll learn to take her eyes off the situations and to focus on Me.  And she's smart enough to ask Me for wisdom where it's lacking in her life.  The day is coming when she will choose joy when facing various trials knowing a good work is being completed in her.
Let's face it, we're all still works in progress.  The joyful news is we can trust God knowing the trials we encounter help us to mature and become complete in Him.  And we can rest assured those trials will not overwhelm us.  I shared this in the last devotional but it's worth repeating:  He promises that "when you pass through the water, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you."  (Isaiah 43:2a, NKJ)
Application of God's Word:

1.  Are you facing trials in your life right now?

2.  Read the above "heavenly script" changing my name to your name.

3.  What is God wanting to accomplish in your life through these trials?

4.  Read Isaiah 43:1-2 and meditate on His promise.

Personal Matters:

I remember seeing a bumper sticker once which read, "Be patient, God isn't done with me yet."  Isn't that the truth?  The Bible says we are saved and we are being saved.  Don't get me salvation is complete...the redemptive act of Christ on the cross was sufficient.  However, I also believe God wants me to "grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  (See 1 Peter 3:18).  The growing part is progressive and for some reason various trials help me to grow and mature in my faith.  As I grow in Him while facing these trials, hopefully I'll be able to put the whiney baby to rest while joyfully walking in maturity with my focus completely on Him.  Honestly, I'm not there yet.  But that's okay too cuz' I understand I'm "still a work in progress."

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