Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Considering it ALL Joy (Say, What?)

Thought for the day:
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters,
when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect,
so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

(James 1: 2-4)

This is one of the hardest precepts in Christian thought, to "consider it all joy . . . when (we) encounter various trials." There are times we do it, right?  Particularly in times of crisis, such as losing a loved one, we are able to find our "Yes" and know that God is at work in us. 

It's the every day trials in which we find ourselves struggling: When a teenager is surly, or our boss is unfair, or our toddler is whiny, that is where the rubber meets the road. It's so easy to be surly myself, or retaliatory, or -- yes -- whiny. It's hard, hard to "consider it all joy." 

There are times I rise to the occasion, no question. Yet in the rhythm of the day, the ordinary cadence of daily life, it's easy to fall into a habit of complaining and unhappiness. It's hard to remember that I need that testing of my faith to grow my perseverance and that all of it is the refining fire, perfecting in me my finest and noblest self. And to remember, as Paul told the Romans, that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (8:28).

The first step in getting to that place where it is all "work(ing) together for good" is to accept what is, to grab hold of that joy, albeit at times elusive. In working to accept the things we want to push away, in clearing out the relentless chatter in our brains and looking deep in our hearts, we find the joy and from there, grow the perseverance. 

I cannot say it better than Paul did for the Romans: 
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. 
(Romans 5:3-4)

So take heart today --whatever your trials -- and know that you are not alone. We are together in the struggle to grow our faith through joy and then through perseverance. Blessings on your day.

[If you happened to notice that the "thought for the day" is really the thought for yesterday, you get one bonus point!]

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