Years ago I listened to a Bible teacher who said, “When you encounter a frustration in life, use it as an opportunity to practice the fruit of the Spirit, especially patience.” I agree, but I think the apostle James took it even a little farther. He said,
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles 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.”
Are you kidding? Who ever said, “Oh, I’m overjoyed in my dysfunctional marriage,” or “I have so much joy as I watch my child suffer.” Of course, that’s ludicrous but what’s God trying to convey to us? Consider this: how about using this faith-testing situation to develop your joy in God’s greatness? How about pausing for a moment and thanking God for the opportunity to have your faith strengthened? You know, God considers endurance training valuable to our spiritual life or He wouldn’t allow it. As children of God, nothing can ever confront us unless it has passed through the hands of the Father.
You may not understand it, you may not like it, but it’s the truth. God’s desire is for us to depend on Him for everything and when you can’t change your circumstances you have no choice, as a Christian, to trust Him to do the heavy lifting. Do you want to grow in faith? Is it your desire to be complete in this life, lacking nothing? Then allow God to complete His work in you by letting your endurance, through testing, come into your life with a spirit of joy. Not joy in the ugly circumstances but joy and peace in what He’s bringing about in your life.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:5-7 NLT)
If you have no other reason to be happy today, be happy that Jesus is returning to this earth to rule and reign as the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords. And the best part? You, as a Christ-follower, will be truly following Him into His renewed kingdom. Consider that this week, especially if your circumstances seem bleak. He has a future planned and you’re a part of it!