My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2
I find it interesting that the NKJV uses when you “fall” into various trials phrasing. As a child, I used to think it meant walking along a path and then you literally stumble into a pit! Other translations say “when you meet trials of various kinds” (ESV); “when troubles of any kind come your way” (NLT); or as the Message says: Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. I don’t think it matters how the various trials and tests come our way, it is how we handle them that matter.
One struggle or “test” that comes our way is walking with the aftermath of loss. Nine years ago, this week, my husband died. Even though I don’t write it on the calendar for a remembrance, my heart remembers, just like I remember the day of his stroke etc. People told me that the first year would be the “hardest”. It was very hard in some ways. We made it through the firsts (thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday). I still remember the surprise Valentine’s Day flower the funeral home sent me. It helped take the sting off the loss. Comparing “harder” or “easier” really isn’t helpful. It is what it is. Grief days still occur, I’ve learned to manage them, so I guess it’s become easier?
Was it easy? Was it hard? That is all relative, isn’t it? As the years have gone by, I have developed a new rhythm of life that is good. I am very blessed by my family and other people in my life, but does that mean I don’t long to have him in my life again? Of course not. When we suffer loss, no matter what kind of loss–financial, emotional, relational, job, grief, I have learned to turn the “harder” into “easier” is inviting the Holy Spirit to teach me how to walk through the hard times. With Him, those “hard” times become at least a little easier. James 1:2-4 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 complete, lacking nothing.
The way we view trials and testings definitely affects our perspective of “hard” or “easy”. James urges his brethren to view adversities through the lens of joy! Not a natural human response, is it? When we view the various testings, understanding that God has a purpose and a plan for those tests, it makes it “easier”. I have often heard it said, “don’t pray for patience”, but my friends, we need it. The Holy Spirit produces it in our lives as a fruit of the Spirit. This fruit needs difficulties and trials for it to be perfectly formed. Patience is a form of trust. Learning to embrace the trials and testings that are a part of life is a measure of maturity. Children are impatient, adults are supposed to be patient! Oops,we may need to grow up.
I hear my grandchildren saying about many things: “that’s too hard. I can’t do it”. We encourage them to try. Tackling the tests of life alone can be overwhelming. That is why we do it together. Strengthening each other with the words of the Lord is an opportunity to make life’s struggles easier for everyone. Loss anniversaries are still challenging, but when I determine to use them to count the blessings, it becomes easier. To say something is easier, does not mean it isn’t hard!
Father, I ask you to help us with the hard things of life. Teach us how to count it all joy when we face the testings of life. You were the perfect example for us. Strengthen those who are facing hard and uncertain days. We thank you for walking with us during our immature and growing situations. We choose to let patience be formed in us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.