Finding Strength for Difficult Times

     The sooner that we embrace that difficulties are a part of life, the better off we will be. It does not matter who you are, you will face challenges in your life. I know that you think that someone else has if better than you, but they don’t. You are not alone in facing challenges. Now your challenge may be different than someone elses but no one is free from difficulties.

     The Bible calls Jesus’ followers to look at life’s challenges from a different perspective. James reminds us that relational and life difficulties have a positive benefit in our lives. For instance, we are reminded to ““Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” (James 1:2) The picture here of difficulties being dropped onto your life without warning. These could be difficulties brought by others or yourself. They can impact you physically, relationally or financially. The point is your life will be filled with these “opportunities” to trust God and put his Word into practice.  James goes on to remind us that the reason we can be joyful is that these “tests of your faith” stretch your trust in God. He goes on to remind us that this stretching, or spiritual exercise makes us spiritualy strong. We have a saying today, “No Pain, No Gain!” This is also true for the follower of Jesus.

     If we are going to face the challenges, or should I say embrace the opportunities to trust God. The first step is getting God’s help. James reminds us of one of the most important resources, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) All too often we make situations worse by letting our emotions dictate our responses rather than seeking God’s wisdom. So how do I gain access to God’s wisdom?

     Our verse reminds us to “ask God.”  This is speaking of prayer. One of our first responses to a difficult situation should be to pray. And when God’s insight is not immediate, we need to continue to pray. Our verse also reminds us that God answers, or responds to, our requests for wisdom. The Lord can do this by giving us insights into prayer. It could be pointing out areas of our responsibility. He also brings to mind truth learned from our regular Bible reading or verses that we have memorized.  God also will use the teaching of others in sermons, written materials and podcasts. God has also provided other Godly people as a resource to guide us through these difficult times.

     I would encourage you to slowly read all of James 1. I want to leave you with a word of encouragement. James writes, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) This is part of the blessing of belonging to Jesus, we have something to look forward to no matter how bad it gets.

  -Pastor Joe Parkinson

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