Wednesday, 17 January 2018

finding joy in the struggle

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" 
James 1:2-4

As you know, this year I asked God to give me a word to take with me through 2018, and I he gave me the word Joy. I decided to take some time to study what exactly Joy means and where we can see it used in the bible. The verse from James was one I came across immediately. At first I skipped straight past it, as I wanted my word to mean that everything in the next year will go great and that I might have a rest from trials and struggles. However, I soon felt the Lord lead me gently back to it. 

As I began to really get to grips with this verse, I started to question how joyful I actually am, and whether it manifests itself in times of trial in my own life. 

James calls us to consider it 'pure joy' in trials, or as the passion translation says:
" when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can." 

What a challenge! But James continues by saying that in times of great struggle, real growth comes, and in it we can learn so much about who God really is. 

It reminds me a bit of bread (bear with me!) When you bake bread after placing all the ingredients in a bowl, you don't just leave it, you knead the dough. The kneading activates the yeast, which causes it to rise. 

When we face times of trial, and we feel like we are being kneaded (is it just me that sometimes feels as if I am being spiritually kneaded!?!?!?) it actually activates our faith and helps us to grow so we can experience the 'good bread' as a result.

If we face times of struggle with joy, knowing that we will see good fruit (or bread!) - oh how that could renew our minds and help our relationships with others to flourish. 

I am blessed to have many prayer partners, most of them women journeying through infertility. This week, one of those beautiful women said something that profoundly challenged me. She talked about a huge struggle her family had gone through, where God miraculously intervened, and recalled how the trial had brought her family wonderfully close. She then reflected this on her own journey to be a mum and her marriage and she shared with great joy how there was developing a new level of closeness and intimacy in her marriage through the trials. 


Today my  prayer is that I might reflect that joy as struggles come and that the bread that is made through my trials may be good, wholesome, edifying and taste delicious! 

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