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But take heart! I have overcome the world

Dear Church Family,This morning I was pondering a passage from the book of James that was discussed in our Connect Group last night…James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

If you really listen to that verse, these words must shock you. It’s like James wants us to be excited with the prospect of suffering through the difficulties of life.  So when James says to consider trials your joy…that’s a hard pill to swallow.

When you look closer at verse 2, you will notice something about the way he words it. Maybe you noted that he didn’t say “if”…it’s “whenever you face trials.” James is reminding the church it is a fact of life that we are going to go through hard times, and at this very moment we are all facing a trial and a drastic life change that we did not see coming—Covid-19. 

Jesus Himself confirms James 1:2…He tells us in John 16:33 “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Paul also testified to it in Acts 14:22 “…We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God…” They aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know, or are they? But the truth of the matter is, hard and difficult times in life are inevitable. Think about it… 

*If you choose to love people, then you invite into your life the suffering that comes from being betrayed or abandoned by someone you love.                             

*If you attempt to accomplish success in your lifetime, you invite the burdens that come with frustration and failure.                                                                                

*If you breath air, you invite the prospect of a viral or bacterial infection.

So what James is saying is since you can’t avoid times of tribulation, don’t spend your life allowing difficult situations to control and dictate your life.… “consider it pure joy.” As God’s sons and daughters, let’s not live our lives cowering in fear of adversity…don’t be afraid to love because people might hurt you…don’t be afraid to try something new because you might fail.

What we must realize is that our attitude during hard times determines how it affects us. If fear and anxiety reigns during those times, the trials will beat us up. But if we view hardships as our ally instead of our enemy, then we can begin to understand what James is talking about. If you were to look back over your life, you will realize that the times you have matured the most is when you have gone through those difficulties times—God uses those moments in our lives to mold us into who He wants us to be… James 1:3 says, “…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 

It’s only through the pain of suffering that you come to know the power of God’s comfort. When we face the “trials of many kinds” that James speaks of, we need to understand: ‘You’re Not Alone.’ The psalmist wrote (Psalm 46) “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” 

James wants us to know, if we are going to worship God even in the darkest times of life, we need to be able to see the joy. In Christ, Pastor Steve

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