My pastor started a series of teaching from James in the New Testament. This past Sunday he taught about trials from James 1
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
As a survivor of childhood abuse, such teaching used to cause me to wonder if that sounded abusive anytime someone talked about trials being allowed by God. However, God is not abusive. But it was an issue I struggled with many years ago.
The trials James was alluding to were suffering because of being a Christian. Historically at that time, Christians were persecuted severely much like what happens in the Middle East or China today.
But what about other kinds of suffering.
There is suffering with sickness that is part of the consequences of the fall when Adam and Eve sinned. I live with chronic illnesses. Those are a result of living in a fallen world.
There are the effects of growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. Those are effects of someone else’s sin.
There are hardships such as having classes canceled in June 2020 in the midst of a pandemic with no chance to seek anything else.
Whatever the cause of suffering, suffering is not something I would equate with having joy. Except when I factor in the principle of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
By sharing the comfort God has given me, I can join with God in seeing others be blessed. When I was able to help a little girl with anxiety, it was because God had led me to study Spanish and because I understand anxiety. Because of living with chronic illnesses, I can share the hope I have in Jesus with others who live with chronic illness. The list goes on and on.
It is when I seek God for strength to share and opportunities to share in the midst of the hardships of life that I experience what Psalm 126 talks about.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.