I love this time of year. January is a month for new beginnings, restarts, new goals, and yearly resolutions…which, if I’m honest, I always struggle to keep.
It’s a time for looking over the previous year and reflecting on the good, the bad and yes…even the ugly. A time to step back and celebrate what went well and…evaluate what didn’t.
But no matter how your previous year went or how this year has already started, one thing that will be constant year after year is trials.
I find it interesting that James, the author of this book of the Bible, sees it fit to begin with this truth.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever 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 anything…” James 1:2-4
Friend, I hate to break it to you but it’s not a matter of “if” the trials will come but “when” they come…how will you respond?
Like it or not, trials in our lives are here to stay, but the good news is we don’t have to be victims of them any longer…we have a choice.
We can either choose to find the “joy” in the trial and thereby learn and grow as a result, or we can choose to resist and fight the trial and thereby miss out on the personal growth that could have come from learning through the experience.
I know when you are going through a trial, it feels like you are the only one who has ever experienced anything this hard, this hurtful…this intense. But let me reassure you…you are in good company! In almost every story in the Bible, whether it’s Ruth struggling to make ends meet, Abraham clinging to God’s promises in the midst of the waiting or Moses trying to lead a group of reluctant followers through the desert, as a daughter to the King of Kings…you, my dear, are part of an amazing lineage of overcomers! Never forget the lessons we can learn from those who have gone before as they persevered through their trials and taught us that with God, our trials can turn into triumphs.
So we have a choice as we head into a new year. Will we learn and grow from the trials and allow God to turn them from trials to triumphs? Or will we choose to close ourselves off, harden our hearts and miss the valuable lessons that could have helped us develop perseverance and grow us toward greater spiritual maturity?
Listen, it’s not a matter of putting on a fake happy face and pretending to be happy when in reality you are hurting. It’s not about pretending you don’t suffer, struggle with doubts or fail to see how God can bring anything good out of the situation. It’s a matter of choosing to find that joy in the midst of the heartache. It’s a matter of submitting to God’s plan instead of our own and realizing that His ways are not our ways…but His ways, in the end, are always good because He is good.
It’s about seeking to see the “gold nuggets” of a lesson hidden within a trial and rejoicing in the growth that came from it.
We all want to be Ruths, Abrahams, and Moses…but many times we fail to see how God used trials in their lives to mature them in their faith and develop the perseverance that was needed for the amazing plans God had for their lives.
Sweet friend, He uses trials in our lives to do the same.
So this year as you face new trials, consider this:
1. Your attitude affects your outcome.
2. Choose gratitude for the trial because of what the trial can produce in you.
3. Look for ways to turn your hardship into learning.
4. Turn sleepless nights and restless mornings into opportunities for prayer.
5. Choose to see the trial as an opportunity for growth.
And remember, in the midst of the trials and storms in our lives, God promises to never leave us or forsake us. You are not and never will be left to go through them alone. You are loved by the One who willingly hung on the cross for you so you can spend eternity with Him.
This year and every year after, may our New Years Resolution be to know Jesus at a deeper level.
Let’s Talk: What are some of your New Year Resolutions?
Love God Greatly!
Week 1 Challenge: This week write in your James journal or on another piece of paper your game plan for how you are going to handle trails in your life. Instead of being reactive, let’s begin the year being proactive and ready with a thought out action plan to combat any trials we will face.
Week 1 Reading Plan
Week 1 Memory Verse
Looking for our corresponding women’s and children’s journals? You can find them here on Amazon!
Women’s Journal: http://amzn.to/2BiviJS
Children’s Journal: http://amzn.to/2Dr14pr