Lord, my hope will remain in You always.
During the trials of life and in the seasons of joy
I will cling to You; I will praise Your holy name!
Series Focus: “Resurrecting Hope in the Midst of Life’s Storms”
Look on the bright side. It could have been worse. Try not to think about it. Has anyone ever given you this type of advice smack dab in the middle of experiencing a hardship? When all you see are clouds forming and storms brewing, how in the world do they think you can see the good in it? Trials vary in magnitude and length. Some hit us when we are enjoying blissful success, while others come one after another with no end in sight. But, one thing is certain, they come. Are we surprised by these trials? Do we see them coming? Sometimes we get a warning other times we don’t. No matter when they come, we are never quite ready.
The storms we have been exploring together over the past few months are very real and undeniably challenging. The diagnosis of illness, pain of rejection, unrealistic expectations, overwhelming anger, anxiety, loss of a friendship or a loved one, exhaustion, jealousy…this list goes on and on. How can we undergo this distress and not be consumed by grief or discouragement? When everything in us is hurting, our tears won’t stop falling, the pain is unbearable…how?
If we have trusted in Jesus as our Savior we have an answer. Our answer is found in God’s word; our ability to trust His word will be the difference maker in our sufferings. Let’s reflect:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire —may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
When James encourages us to count it all joy, he isn’t denying the difficulty. He is telling us to count, “to evaluate”, the way we look at trials. We don’t have to pretend our trial is easy or enjoyable. However, if we believe there is a God ordained purpose in it, then we know nothing we experience will be wasted by the Lord. We can trust that what we go through will be used for our good. Paul tells us in the book of Romans:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Looking at your challenges with eyes focused on Jesus and trusting God to use them for a good purpose may be new for you. Generally storms are not an occasion for celebration. Storms can however be used by God to produce something good in us or remove something harmful from us. There may even be a moment when you realize where you were going or what you were doing before the storm, is no longer the path you want to walk. Suddenly you are rerouted to a place you never expected. Perhaps your faith has grown much deeper, more genuine, more complete…lacking nothing. Oh how beautiful that would be!
Jesus himself tells us that we will have troubles in this life but we must take heart:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Paul writes to remind us:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings,
so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When we have these trials, as much as they hurt, Jesus is with us. He is our comfort. He is full of mercy. He gives us opportunities to comfort others in their afflictions. Let us be encouraged to seek the Lord’s presence, to cry out to Him in our anguish, to receive His peace and allow His saving power to restore us!
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
Father, we praise you that in all things we can be thankful! Help us Lord to seek You, to know You, and to follow You. Lord, You are sovereign, You are good and You never leave us in the storm alone. May we count it ALL joy as we endure trials of various kinds…we want to be steadfast with our eyes upon You so that we may lack nothing! In Jesus’ name. Amen
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: James 1:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Romans 8:28; John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 34:19