Strength That Comes From Endurance
Do you ever feel like the trials in your life are testing your faith? I can relate. Sometimes our trials include our marriage, friendships, relatives, jobs, finances, children, or our health. Although having trials in our lives is unavoidable, there is good news that stems from our trials.
James shared these wise words with the 12 tribes in James 1:2-3 (CSB),
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James did not encourage the tribe to have joy simply because they had trials, but to have joy because the trials produce endurance—and when endurance was in full effect in their lives, they would be mature and complete (James 1:4).
As an athlete, I have learned the benefits of the strength that comes from endurance. When I endure a hard long-distance run or an intense strength-training session, I become stronger and more conditioned. When I reflect on the words of James that state that the testing of my faith produces endurance, I remember that this spiritual endurance helps me to become mature in the things of God.
There are times when we do not know how to navigate our trials, but God is faithful to provide wisdom when we need it. When we seem the most lost, God gives us direction. Whether the trials that test your faith are caused by the economy, disasters, broken relationships, heartbreak, or anything in between, God can give you the wisdom to navigate those trials. James 1:5 declares,
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.
This promise in God’s Word that He will give wisdom to those of us who ask is always comforting to me. So often we need the wisdom that only God can give to navigate our trials. No matter the complexity or the uncertainty, we can count on God to give us the needed wisdom.
Streams in the Desert – November 19
- 202219 Nov
Though you have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress, revive me once again! Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth! (Ps 71:20)
God shows us the troubles. Sometimes, as this part of our education is being carried forward, we have to descend into “the lower parts of the earth,” pass through subterranean passages, lie buried amongst the dead, but never for a moment is the cord of fellowship and union between God and us strained to breaking; and from the depths God will bring us again.
Never doubt God! Never say that He has forsaken or forgotten. Never think that He is unsympathetic. He will quicken again. There is always a smooth piece in every skein, however tangled. The longest day at last rings out the evensong. The winter snow lies long, but it goes at last.
Be steadfast; your labor is not in vain. God turns again, and comforts. And when He does, the heart which had forgotten its Psalmody breaks out in jubilant song, as does the Psalmist: “I will thank thee, I will harp unto thee, my lips shall sing aloud.”
“Though the rain may fall and the wind be blowing,
And old and chill is the wintry blast;
Though the cloudy sky is still cloudier growing,
And the dead leaves tell that the summer has passed;
My face I hold to the stormy heaven,
My heart is as calm as the summer sea,
Glad to receive what my God has given,
Whate’er it be.
When I feel the cold, I can say, ’He sends it,’
And His winds blow blessing, I surely know;
For I’ve never a want but that He attends it;
And my heart beats warm, though the winds may blow.”
The Sacrifice of Thanks-Sharing
Glynnis Whitwer, author, Crosswalk.com
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16 (NASB)
Enough. That’s what I have. Really, more than enough.
More than enough clothes in my closet. Food in my fridge. Shoes spread on the floor. Cans in the cupboard.
My children have books, warm jackets, tennis shoes, pencils, and opportunities for more. I have clean sheets, soft pillows, a kitchen table, and indoor plumbing.
My husband and I have never taken our provisions for granted. Every day we are thankful for the blessings of our home and family. Yet eight years ago we were increasingly aware of what Luke 12:48b tells us, “When someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (NLT) We felt an obligation to do something more with our blessings.
So in 2005 our family of five put a plan in place to share what we had. We had enough home, enough time, and enough love. Our gratitude to God for His blessings couldn’t be kept to ourselves any more. We started with some rearranging. Two of our three sons moved furniture around so they could share a room, Then we bought two little white beds, pink curtains, and some dolls. I bought matching calico comforters and guessed at sizes of dresses.
After months of planning to share what we had, two little orphaned sisters stepped off a plane gripping the hands of their new daddy and walked into our hearts and homes.
They wore “African suits” bought from the place of their birth, brightly colored dresses that hung on tiny bodies. So proud they were to own their first new pieces of clothing, wanting to greet their new family in their best. As we wrapped our arms around these little girls, our family of five became seven.
As weeks turned into months, and typical family issues mingled with trauma from our daughters’ pasts, we learned God’s call to share isn’t always easy. Oh, at first it was great, before the first blush of excitement wore off. But the magnitude of sharing our lives with two wounded little girls was harder than we ever imagined.
When worry about the future threatened to overwhelm me, God quietly reminded me that He didn’t ask me to have the answers. That’s His job. My job is just to share what He has given me–my love, my home, my life–with two not-so-little girls now who call me Mama. With a heart of thankfulness, and an open hand of generosity. That’s all He’s asking me. That’s what blesses Him.
God’s Word confirms what pleases Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches us that we must link thanksgiving with sharing. But it also says it will be a sacrifice: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NASB)
As we walk together as a family, we continue to learn that showing thanks to God involves sharing, and sharing involves sacrifice. God still calls us to share out of our abundance, and it still involves sacrifice. But when we share our lives, our homes, our money, our hearts, our skills, and our time as an outpouring of thanksgiving, God is pleased.
Laboring for God
From: Intouch Ministries
God invites us to be a part of His work on earth and promises to reward our efforts.
As Jesus’ followers, we are to carry out His work. And we’re to be living extensions of His life as we do so. Following His example, believers must:
- Live as God’s servants. We need to release control over our time, talent, and treasure and accept our commission to work in His kingdom. Like our Savior, we’re not to act independently (John 5:19). Our assignment is to do whatever God asks of us.
- Answer His call to aid others. We tend to limit our circle to people like ourselves, but we must fight against this inclination. We should be willing to respond to the needs of strangers and friends alike. And the Lord can help us recognize those opportunities.
- Motivate one another to good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). We’re to spur each other toward godliness and service rather than worldly pleasure and self-centeredness. Believers should foster in each other gratefulness for what He has done and confidence about what He will do.
Good works don’t earn salvation, but they do affect eternal rewards. Believers’ deeds will one day be evaluated: Works done without direction from God will be burned up, while those accomplished in obedience to the Spirit will be remembered and acknowledged (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Let your love for God stimulate you to labor in His kingdom.