The great Giver of all gifts includes some that are covered in the strange wrapping paper of trials.
Published February 7th, 2017; Updated February 7th, 2017
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Trials as gifts It's not hard to see that God is a giver when we look at the world around us. His gifts of an amazing body to steward, the staggering complexity of creation, and His grace through the body of Christ. But there is an unusual category of gifts that often (at least for me) go unrecognized: trials. "What? How are trials a gift?" James 1:2-4 says that it is part of a holy adventure God has us on. The path He has made looks like this: 1. a trial (and it can be of 'various kinds'... big or small... fast or slow... physical, emotional, relational, financial... persecution or not,... etc...) 2. endurance / perseverance 3. becoming mature (... like Christ!) But here's the catch, we can actually short-circuit these gifts from God. Another way to look at it is that God has us on the operating table to remove all sort of horrible things from our body. But we can get off the table (and we often do). But think about His goal for us... becoming more like Christ... more like Himself. Glory for Him and intimacy and joy for us. Closer and closer to our true eternal state. That is worth it. Questions for reflection / discussion In the U.S., our sports culture, the military, and even pop singers like Kelly Clarkson have said things like... "no pain, no gain" "pain is weakness leaving the body" "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" Is scripture just saying the same thing? Why or why not? Praying it back to the Father "Lord, it's often hard for me to see disappointments and struggles as opportunities for joy. I get frustrated when I have to wait for the car in front of me or a slow web page. And the larger disappointments cause me to worry and fear. But thank You for having my good in mind with every challenge I come across. Thank You that they are not accidents. I do want to be mature; help me to want it even more. Help me to not short circuit Your plan to get me there. Thanks so much. In Jesus' name." For further study Rom 5:1-5 Rom 8:18 (& context) Rom 8:28-29 Heb 12:4-11 1 Peter 4:1
e Count it all joy, my brothers, 1
Categorize it as a source of joy
when you meet trials f of various kinds,
when you encounter different types of hard times
for you know that g the testing of your faith h produces steadfastness.
because it tests your faith, and that results in endurance.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
Therefore, don't stop endurance from doing its thing:
that you may be i perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
the purpose of bringing you to maturity.