We are living in very challenging times. They are also very exciting times full of amazing technological advancements that have led to so much new and diverse opportunity that has never existed before.
And with all that there are a lot of new challenges we are experiencing in our personal lives. Same old challenges we’ve always had along with a variety of new ones that our parents, grand parents and ancestors never had to deal with. I also think that this is only the beginning of many more challenges that we as human beings are going to be seeing in the near future.
In James 1:2-4 it says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials, adversity, challenges]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [develops, produces] patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect [mature] and entire [complete], wanting [lacking] nothing.”
Patience is a fruit of the spirit as listed along with love among others in Galatians 5:22. This is not the simple kind of patience like dealing with a difficult customer, a slow poke walking in front of you or waiting for a red light that takes too long in turning green. The word here is longsuffering; persevering endurance.
Fruit must be grown through actions: tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering, pruning, etc. And then more work in the harvest. It takes work to grow fruit. What kind of work is involved in growing the fruit called patience? The way you grow and develop that fruit of the spirit called patience is revealed in James 1:3, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh [develops, produces] patience”.
Whenever we as individuals are faced with challenges we pretty much have two options:
Option #1 is we avoid. We human beings tend to run from anything that is a challenge or problematic in our lives. We run from it. Whether it is a physical or an emotional pain, or a mental challenge we run away. We go out and we drink or we watch TV or occupy our minds with some activity or a vice to distract us from dealing with the pain of the challenge.
Option #2 is we face the challenge. We face it with the help of God and the gift of holy spirit. Option #2 is the only option that will bring you a solution to your challenge. In addition to that, we are to “count it all joy” when we fall into various adversities and challenges.
More on that in a second; let’s talk a little more about Option #1.
Avoidance is a horrible option. While we don’t see it at the time, what it leads to only makes us more miserable as the challenge continues to grow and fester and destroy our lives. We put our blinders on and we put our fingers in our ears trying to ignore the problem hoping that it will just go away. You know what? It rarely does.
Usually it grows bigger creating more problems and bigger challenges for us. By avoiding it, not only are we prolonging the pain and the suffering that we are experiencing, we are also digging a deeper whole that is increasingly harder to climb out of than the first one ever was.
Avoidance also causes us to miss the true gift that the challenge is presenting to us. That gift is the ability to grow. To learn, become stronger and increase our faith in God and in ourselves.
While it’s much more difficult in the moment facing the problem is usually the best option (unless the problem is a physically dangerous situation, in which case avoidance might be best). It may be painful to face, it may be scary, it may feel like even more that you think you can take on or handle. But when you face it that is when you begin to find solutions. Solutions that truly move through blockages, around obstacles, help you climb over what ever that challenge is and you finally get to the other side.
What is on the other side?
On the other side of the challenge, on the other side of facing the problem, on the other side of the suffering you are going through, on the other side of all that… is the Truth. On the other side is Strength, Resolve and Commitment. On the other side are feelings of accomplishment and victory. On the other side is the reality that there is nothing that we can’t solve. On the other side is: Growth, Enlightenment, Empowerment and True Freedom.
That is why we are we told to “count it all joy” when going though trials, adversity and challenges; because we will not figure out solutions when we are running from our challenges. You won’t get strength or resolve, no feeling of accomplishment or victory, no growth, no enlightenment, no empowerment and no Freedom; none of that.
You have to find it within yourself to face what’s happening in our life with courage and conviction. That is what causes us to find solutions, grow patience and to develop in the most significant ways possible.
Having that ability to face whatever life or the devil is putting in front of us, right here and right now – AND approach it with joy and excitement and boldness, not shrinking away in fear. Operating from that mindset and facing your problems head on leads to the biggest strides in both personal and spiritual growth that you will ever make in your lifetime.
When you face a challenge, do you think God will bless you when you face it looking for a solution? Yes He will. Do you think He will be proud of you for facing your challenge? You bet He will. God is your heavenly father, He wants to see you grow and succeed.
I realize there are a variety of challenges that people are facing today. People are facing financial struggles, relationship issues, drug addictions, even challenges we think are beyond our control such as politics, world events and even the weather. People are also struggling with their identity, like finding purpose and meaning in their lives.
All these problems are leading us in a negative direction toward nervousness, doubt, worry and fear. All of these things and more are happening to everyone, and WE HAVE TO FACE THEM! When you face them you move away from doubt, worry and fear. By facing your problems you are moving toward confidence, trust and believing. This is a positive direction toward God.
So I ask you, what are YOU going to do about your problems today, right here, right now? Are you going to go with Option #1, turning tail and running from your problems or are you going to go with Option #2 and face them head on?
As we live and face the trials and tribulations of life, we learn to be patient, and this strengthens us to be stronger in facing the next challenge that comes along. It gets easier the more you do it. And we are to consider them as a joy, because they are going to turn out to be a blessing to us... If we have faith and don’t give up when the going gets tough!
These challenges we experience are literally trials of our faith at the very core. We know that the devil’s agenda is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Therefore, as the children of God it is imperative that we live by faith.
Faith grows stronger through trials, tribulations, adversity and challenges. We are to embrace them boldly with joy as leaders, not run away from them like scared little victims. As our faith grows, the more patient we become; that is, we are able to endure the hardships and trials of life without complaining. And we know that complaining just glorifies the devil, it never solves anything and it usually makes everything worse. Complaining is Option #1, a form of avoidance.
We must have trust in God to lead and guide us through all the trials that we face. This brings glory to God, a solution to our problems and peace to our hearts.
James goes on in verse 4 telling us to “let patience have her perfect work,” to let patience produce its fruit; that is, her work without being hindered. We are not to hinder the influence patience works in our heart. There are many things that hinder patience from influencing our hearts. Such things as murmuring, complaining and rebellion, avoidance, running away, etc.
You see, God has designed patience to produce the necessary virtues in order for us to mature. When patience has her perfect work in our hearts, it brings us into full maturity in the Christian life. Now notice it continues in verse four, it says, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect [fully developed] and entire [complete], wanting [lacking] nothing.”
The NIV reads, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” When patience has her perfect work, meaning that your patience is mature and fully developed, then there will be nothing lacking in our lives in any way. There is nothing you can’t overcome.
When we are faced with affliction and adversity, then what is truly within us, what our true character is comes out. Adversity, probably more than anything else, will bring out our true character and inner principles, so that we may see what we really are. We may already have within us the elements of good character, and good sound Biblical principles. We might be able to put on a happy face when things are going great but the good character and the sound principles will not be proven until they are under some kind of a trial or test.
As we let patience do her work in us under these trials and afflictions, AND we persevere NOT giving up, this will cause us to grow and produce more patience.
We don’t start out with patience then find the courage to face a problem. We start out living by faith. Then faith builds confidence, confidence build courage, courage leads to facing our challenges, facing our challenges builds patience.
Romans 5:3-4 says “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope [faith]:” It goes full circle and continues building upon itself. When you have done all these steps in building patience, then patience can complete her work in you. Perfecting you so that you are mature, complete, lacking nothing in the ability to overcome any challenges that comes your way.
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