Let me share with you a verse that I never really understood until this week.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
Here's what I have learned from this verse:
1. Be joyful, even thankful, when you go through the tough stuff.
When I faced a really tough trial this last week, I was torn apart emotional. I was distraught, frustrated, hurt.. I was fighting to do the right thing. But when I dug into the Word to seek God's counsel, I read this verse like it was the first time. And I finally got what God was trying to say... Be joyful when you face trials. Welcome them... not that you want to go through them.. but when it happens, understand that by working through it, you will be better for it, and God will be glorified in it.
2. Let your faith be tested - it will develop other characteristics that will help you grow spiritually.
I grasped the concept that by working through this trial with joy, God was going to develop the fruits of His spirit in me. By allowing my faith to be tested, Christ wanted to see how I would respond. Would I respond with hate, anger, or bitterness? Would I just give in and give up so it would all be over as soon as possible? No... I knew that by allowing the situation to take it's time the way God wanted it to, He was teaching me that through this waiting time, he would develop the spirit of perseverance in me. Trials give us a chance to choose how to respond and grow. Instead of choosing to be angry, hurt, or distraught... I chose to take control of my emotions and understand that through this testing, I would mature and grow. I would much rather become more mature in my faith then just give in to the fight.
3. God's purpose will always prevail.
Sometimes the trial is not just about you. Sometimes the person or people in your a trial with, need to go through it so that God can see His plan come to pass. God wants you to grow just as much as he wants the person your in trial with to grow. I knew by going through this trial that God had a plan for every person involved. That's not my place to say how, I just felt God speaking to me that He was going to use this trial for His good. What a privilege that God gave me to help see His work in others begin and be fulfilled. Because I knew God was using this for my growth and the growth of others, I had to chose for my words and actions to reflect Him. You see, in tough times, in fight, in trials... we choose how to respond. We can chose to be lovingly honest and work toward building better relationships, or we can chose to be critical, use guilt or blame, and respond with hurtful actions or words.
God places or allows trials in our lives because He wants to see our response. God wants to see us grow from everything we encounter. He knew that throughout our lives, there would be trials and that we would struggle. So He used the Word to share with us how to consider those trials pure joy. To be thankful when we go through tough times, because if we chose to follow His commandments and teachings, we can grow in our faith from every trial we encounter.
So if you are going through something really tough right now... whether it be spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, financially, etc... consider it pure joy! Because you know, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will grow in faith and perseverance!