Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Embracing Tests

“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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2-4,12 NIV)

It is the week where students begin taking their final exams.  I have never met a student who enjoys taking exams.  They are always anxious just to be done with them.  

They are really no different than the rest of us.  None of us enjoy the tests that life brings.  In fact, many of us will go to great lengths to avoid being tested.  We avoid situations where we might risk being put to the test, such as living far away from where we grew up, going on a mission trip to a foreign country, or interacting with people we consider different from us.  

The reality is, however, no matter how much we seek to avoid being tested, living in a fallen world will eventually bring trials to us.  But James says rather than dreading them, we should embrace them because through testing we can mature and be rewarded.  

I can attest to this truth.  I have experienced some heavy trials in my life.  Both my parents died after long illnesses when I was in my 20’s.  A woman I loved broke my heart around the same time, and years later my first wife left me.  Those trials were all extremely painful and I would never have chosen them on my own, but I can truly say I grew more in my walk with the Lord during those times than at any other in my life.  

The fact is growth and maturity is produced by hardship, yet we live in a culture determined to avoid it at all costs.  Although it is an older article, this piece in Psychology Today is still accurate in arguing that because parents are so overprotective of their children, they are raising kids incapable of coping with the rigors of life.  They want their children to have lives without tests.

It is natural to want to avoid painful circumstances, but we need to embrace the truth that these difficult times help us to grow and mature. To avoid them is merely hurting ourselves.

Today, recognize life is full of painful and difficult circumstances. Instead of trying to avoid them, embrace them and let the Lord use them to grow and mature you.  If you persevere, you will be greatly rewarded.

© Jim Musser 2018

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