Last Sunday, my pastor, Jason Forby, spoke about James 1:2-4, where we are told to see our difficulties as an opportunity for joy because "when your faith is tested, it develops endurance. You must allow endurance to finish its work so you'll be everything you should be and have everything you need (Radiate New Testament)."
Jason said this broken world will always provide us endless difficulties, but when trouble comes, we get to see a side of God we wouldn't have known otherwise. That resonated with me. Most of us Believers agree our greatest times of spiritual growth have come through difficulties. In the pit of my addiction, I discovered He is my rescuer and healer. In prison, I learned He is my protector, and when I came out, I realized He is my restorer. When Dad died, I discovered He is my comforter.
Despite these experiences, I'm still not to the point where I see difficulties as an opportunity for joy. I mostly see difficulties as an opportunity for a panic attack.
Yesterday I came home from a delightful breakfast with a friend, and I was full of joy. When I pulled into my drive, I saw the gate for our fence was open, and our dogs were missing. Exit joy, enter meltdown. I had what can best be described as a "high-speed come-apart."
During my frantic search, I learned what wonderful friends and neighbors I have. Prayer chains quickly formed, and neighbors came out to help. Folks were searching by foot, bicycle, and car. One of my friends even left work to come to help me search. After over an hour of panicked, prayerful searching with no sign of my fur-babies, Mom called. When I told her what had happened, she responded, "I have them. Don't you remember I was going to pick them up?" The relief overcame the embarrassment. Humbled but happy, I called off the search.
In retrospect, I can't help but think about that passage in James. I wonder how God felt seeing the panic, hearing the prayers and all the while knowing there was no crisis. While I was searching, I admit I kept thinking, "have faith," but the picture in my mind of their furry bodies ran over on the main road was too compelling to overcome. As I ponder all this, I know my Heavenly Father is giving me a teachable moment.
There has never been a single time when He has not provided for Caring Counseling or me. Despite that, I still panic over seemingly insurmountable needs. He's never held that against me by withholding the provision, but all this panic has taken a toll on my body and mind. A needless toll. How much better would my life be if I could, indeed, consider it joy when difficulties come. What if I actually believed He is my provider? At the very least, I could probably give up my morning heartburn medication and nightly sleep aid.
We all have areas where we haven't learned to trust the Father. Maybe it's your kids, your finances, politics, or perhaps it's COVID. Whatever it is, when difficulties in those areas arise, the Father is inviting us to consider it joy. Let's use our faith and grow some endurance. Consider the joy of being bulletproof to the brouhaha this world keeps dishing out.
Cris Corzine-McCloskey is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Director of Caring Counseling Ministries. CCM is a not-for-profit corporation for the purpose of providing counseling from a Biblical perspective at an affordable cost to persons living in Southern Illinois. Our office is located at 11264 Route 37 Marion, IL. To make an appointment, please call (618) 997-2129.