Monday March 22 – Day 34 – WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU…

 In Lenten Devotional

Monday March 22 – Day 34 – WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU…

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:2-12 (NIV)

“Modern Family” has always been one of our favourite shows in the Clause household.  In one of the episodes, Manny corrects his stepfather Jay who placed a sign in his room saying “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”.  Manny shares with Jay that a friend’s grandfather had a heart attack and actually “lots of stuff that doesn’t kill you makes you weaker”.  There are times that I agree with Manny.

No one likes trials.  No one likes hardship.  And yet, when you speak to the generation that had very little after the first World War, they were still able to be happy.  They appreciated everything they had and didn’t take a meal for granted.  For my parents, and many from that generation, leaving food on your plate was the biggest insult you could make to a host inviting you to dinner.  You never wasted food because there wasn’t enough to go around, so you valued everything there was to eat.

James reminds us that in matters of the faith, if we are tested, that we are to be filled with joy.  It means we will be refined and we will learn perseverance.  As we persevere, we grow and mature.  God is also pleased because James reminds us that if we do persevere during trials, then we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised.

All we need is love…for Him.

Oh yes, and not doubt.

During Lent, and especially dealing with COVID-19, we have all experienced different kinds of trials and tribulations.  Doubting has been part of the landscape and for most believers I am sure many have faced their doubts with respect to God acting on their behalf.  It has been very difficult to watch fellow believers south of the border and how some have traded the Gospel in for some politicized way of living that resembles 1952 but without the kindness, respect and discourse from that era.  In my head I have been thinking, “If THEY are right in the eyes of God, does the God that I have grown to know and love not exist?

I began to doubt, which James reminds us, is not a good thing to do.

IF we ask for God’s wisdom we not only need to ask humbly but we also need to TRUST that God will share His wisdom with us.  I do not want to be double-minded and unstable.  I want to trust God’s promises and know that He will truly lead me to the right answer and the right situation 100% of the time.  No doubts.

If you are struggling right now in a situation that seems impossible to change or to be freed from, know that God is willing to help.  As we offer up these trials to Him, we trust that He will release us and as we persevere, we get more mature in our faith. We don’t ask the question “Why?” so much as asking the question, “When?”.

God loves those who persevere, who don’t give up and put their trust in Him wholly.  If you are in a bad situation, it is crucial to have fellow believers come to your aid not only by praying for you but walking alongside you.  We as the church need to support each other in our struggles.  We need to be willing to be available and open to those in the church.  We need to reach out from time to time with a friendly “How are you?” text.  Now, you may not get a genuine response, but then again you might.  As we trust each other and the Lord, we learn the Art of Perseverance and help others to experience the same.

It is not a spectator sport.

As we learn, we persevere.

As we persevere, we grow.

As we grow, we mature.

As we mature, we learn….and the cycle begins again.

I believe the best way to learn perseverance is to spend time with those from an older generation than ourselves.  My Dad shared what it was like to live during the depression and having an alcoholic father who would disappear from time to time.  He shared with me the hardship growing up in an orphanage when his brothers and sisters were taken away from his mom (my Grandmother) by the government because there were just too many children to take care of on her own, and native children as well.  He persevered, watched himself around alcohol (he is a teetotaller) and to this day because of his good work ethic still remembers his employee number 32 years after his first retirement!  (My Dad was called back to Westinghouse after his retirement to help out in a temporary function).  Whenever I speak to older generations, I am blown away by all of the terrible things they had to endure, and it helps me to understand the importance of moving forward without giving up.

Blessed are you, the one that does not give up but keeps persevering.

God sees and is honoured when you persevere for Him.

Jesus is our great role model when it comes to this.  His entire ministry in 33 years was about not giving up – ever.  In those weakest moments, He always consulted His father in prayer, gaining wisdom and not doubting, and He always responded maturely and in faith.

Jesus knew and trusted His Father and in doing so, completed the plan of salvation that has changed our lives forever.

Remember that in this life we will suffer. We will go through trials of all kinds. At the centre of all of our worry and strife, we keep the Father’s Heart close to us, because He understands. He understands and wants us to succeed. He is our greatest cheerleader and encourager. And if we do not doubt when we ask to receive more of God’s wisdom, we will be blessed. Right now I cannot think of a more essential experience than being blessed by God thanks to our perseverance.

Know that God is in your corner, whether you have created this mess yourself or because of circumstances outside of your control.  He loves you and understands our condition and state better than we realize.

And the reward? The crown of life!

Today, as you start a new work week, celebrate the fact that Jesus is in your corner, encouraging and speaking truth to you.  Listen well, and then speak, giving thanks to God for all He has done.  A God who gives generously without finding fault (and that in itself is a miracle to celebrate. Worship Him with every fibre of your being and may God bless you with that beautiful crown.

Have a lovely Monday everyone!

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