When You Face Trials
"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." James 1:2-3 (NIV)
I planted them at the same time. In the same way. With the same tender love and care. Every time I watered one, I watered the other. Everything was the same ... almost.
One red begonia flower was planted between a crepe myrtle tree and a hydrangea bush, tucked under the protection of the sloping roof. The other flower was planted next to the concrete sidewalk and had no shelter from the pounding rain or scorching sun.
At the end of the summer I was surprised by what I saw.
The little flower tucked under the tree and bush, with just the right amount of filtered sunlight and water, had not grown.
Not one inch.
It was still beautiful, but absolutely nothing had changed from the day I placed it in the ground.
However, the begonia exposed to the elements was at least six times larger. Deep green leaves were cupped as if to receive nourishing drops of water. Red flowers clustered in every direction, and the broad plant was beautiful against the plain concrete sidewalk.
As I stood looking at those two ruby red begonias, I saw us.
In the past three months life has brought many trials our way. A family member in a health crisis. Aging parents with new and unfamiliar challenges. Each need piles on top of the other, weighing heavy on our hearts because we can't fix them, or make them go away. We didn't see these things coming, and at times we aren't sure what to do.
During this difficult season, we have learned to trust God in the flooding rain. And we have discovered that storms don't alarm Him. In these times when we don't know when things will be easier, He's been our anchor, holding fast until the skies clear.
Maybe it would be nice to live a sheltered life with just the right amount of rain, and just the right amount of sun, protected by a gentle sloping roof. Sounds good, doesn't it?
But James 1:2-3 encourages us to count it a joy when we face trials. Because we grow.
As we come toward what we hope is the end of our hard season, we have discovered what it means to trust God and find Him faithful.
We have learned what it means to hold our hands, cupped open, to receive nourishment from on high.
Trials will come. But when they pass, if we have held tight to God, we'll find we have grown, deeply rooted in faith, stronger than before.
And when things get really tough, let's remind each other that on the other side of this trial are beautiful buds of endurance that bloomed under His faithful care.
Dear Lord, this trial is hard but today I see it as another opportunity to grow in You. Thank You that You never change. You are faithful even when life is uncertain. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
It's important to nurture yourself spiritually when you are in a trial. Unfortunately this is a time that we often isolate or retreat, even from God. This leaves you vulnerable to discouragement.
Find a quiet, welcoming place. Shut out distractions (I put on my favorite worship music). Meditate on Scripture. Talk honestly with God about your trial.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (NIV)
1 Peter 1:7, "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (NIV)