Have you ever tried to memorize an entire book of the Bible? Just after college, a group of my best friends and I set out to do just that. Our logic told us to pick a shorter book and one that flowed like a story, rather than a list of rules or Psalms. We decided to memorize the Book of James.
Now, I should preface this with the fact that I am absolutely horrible at memorizing. Growing up with a form of dyslexia and a complete disdain for anything literary, I knew this would be an incredible challenge. But alas, we set a due date of one month to have the entire book committed to memory. I didn’t make it very far.
James 1:2-4 “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” I assure you, I felt as if I had met one of the various trials James spoke of.
Through the research conducted for the Discipleship Pathway, the next Signpost for us to discuss is Exercising Faith. Just as James had described, it is in this exercising of our faith that produces endurance, which must complete its work so that we can be mature and complete believers. The research discovered that suffering was a point at which growing disciples look for God’s hand rather than seek an easy exit.
No one enjoys suffering, but it is in the suffering that the Apostle Paul found that God’s grace is more than sufficient in the midst of it. Suffering is, in fact, promised to all believers in Philippians. 1 Peter tells us that our suffering develops in us a faith that is more valuable than gold and may result in praise, honor, and glory to Jesus. What an incredible thought! How is it that the struggles and trials I face develop me into a more faithful follower?
On the wall in my office, I have a simple drawing of a few lines that represent my life in simplicity and my life in complexity. It is through those times when I find my life complex, in trials of many kinds, that I know my faith is being developed. It may not be fun, nor do I look forward to these trials, but the hope I have in faith is that I will come out the other side of it as a more refined person.
When a disciple is being transformed by Christ, they show a confidence that God is active in providing for their needs in every circumstance. When was the last time you went through a trial? Was your faith strengthened as a result? What are areas of your life that need a closer examination so that you too can exercise faith in those areas? Lean on God. Depend on God. Trust Him in your trials.