“My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.” James 1:2-3 TPT
There are seasons of life when it certainly seems like we are facing one difficulty after another. The uncomfortable heat of affliction, the overwhelming floodwaters of fear, the constant pressure of temptation, and the demands of an overloaded schedule, are with us almost everyday of our lives.
These trials and pressures cause us to bloom or bust, and under pressure, things appear that were once hidden.
“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:3 MSG
Imagine a heavy and wet sponge. The substance that sponge holds can only be revealed when it is wrung out. So it is with our faith- the difficulties of this life show us what we’re working with, and most often than not, we are so much braver than we believe and we are stronger than we seem.
What is revealed under pressure is also proof of what we are soaking in.
What thoughts do you rehearse and keep, what content do you set before your eyes, how do you spend your time, who do you stand closest to?
These are the things that color and flavor what is pressed out of us when we are squeezed. When we chase after righteousness, fuel our hearts and minds with the Word of God, rest and listen to God in prayer, and surround ourselves with people who point us back to Jesus and bring out God in us, we can expect the living water of faith to flow out of us.
This glorious faith-serum, that’s laced with strength and courage, is not manufactured by our own might or goodness- but instead by the Holy Spirit within us. His touch is sometimes unseen and hidden, but He’s constantly at work, stirring up power within us to endure all things.
What’s one area in your life where you feel like your faith is being tested?
What difference might it make to view theses circumstances as a catalyst to stir up power within you to endure even more things?
How to Avoid a Retest
With all the testing and adversity that we encounter, there must be a way to allow these things to have their full, life-giving effect within us. Sometimes we fear that if we stay too long, we might be broken beyond repair. Or, perhaps the discomfort and torment of a situation seems so unbearable that we strive for the quickest and easiest way out.
But if we pull out of something too early, it will usually mean a retest in the future.
As a fitness instructor, I know that in order for growth and strength to occur in my clients, I have to push their muscles almost to the point of failure. I know that when the muscle shakes and appears weakened, I’m getting the closest I can to making it stronger. And so it is with our faith, when we persevere through hardships and trials, our faith is strengthened and we become spiritually mature. But it might feel like we are getting dangerously close to the point of absolute failure or desolation.
Our faith in God will never fail us and our God will never leave us.
James 1:3-4 instructs us not to try to get out of anything prematurely. We are to let the trial do its work so we can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Just as the cold draws us closer to the fire, may the pressures we face move us closer to the wisdom, peace and guidance of God.
“Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option.” 2 Corinthians 4:8 TPT
“At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option.” The next verses in James 1 tells us what to do:
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. James 1: 5-6 MSG
We are going to need wisdom to navigate the pressures of life, and God is our only true source to receive it.
Who do you turn to for advice?
What is your source of hope?
Much like plugging a cord into an electrical outlet, we need to plug into our source of power and discernment. When we do this, we are applying trust and action to our faith, and that pleases the Lord.
God doesn’t just want to make us happy. He wants to make us holy. He wants us mature, complete, not lacking in anything.
Have you ever thought about that as the goal of your life?
“Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us” Romans 3:3-5 TPT
Don’t jump in and out of your faith.
Staying close to God is the safest place to be, and it’s also the place to go to receive peace, wisdom, discernment and victory.
He’ll see us through what ever we are facing.
“The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle is perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties, there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.” Samuel Smiles
The choice is ours. Today we choose between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19). We can run and hide, curse and cry, get stuck on “why” (why me, why is this happening), and be overcome in the process. Or we can choose to allow adversity to be the fire in our lives that strengthens and stirs up power within us.
May we be people that say, we’re not giving up; quitting’s not an option. We may not know what to do- but we trust God to get us through this with His presence, power and wisdom.