I didn’t grow up using an iron. I either wore wrinkle free clothing or just didn’t care, but I never operated one until college. The day my roommate was in a wedding, to be exact. That morning she asked if I would iron her dress. Sure, I thought. How hard could it be? She handed me a bright green, taffeta gown and said, “Make sure you iron it cool.”
That was my first mistake.
I didn’t clarify her instructions. Being too embarrassed to admit my lack of experience, I assumed she meant for me to iron it to look cool. Odd, I thought. W ere there ways to iron something to make it not look cool? Nonetheless, I turned the iron on and set the dress on the board.
As I placed the (hot) iron on the skirt, it immediately caught on the fabric. Instinctively, I pulled up the iron and along with it came the skirt that had been suddenly and permanently melted to the iron’s plate. I peeled the dress off, leaving a gaping hole (the size of an iron) on the front of the skirt.
Let’s just say all the bridesmaids carried their bouquets below the waistline that day.
Clarifying can make a big difference. If we miss the mark from the beginning, we might miss out on a lot! There’s a Bible passage that is often misunderstood and, as a result, leaves us missing its great worth.
Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
At first glance, verse 2 can read that we should be joyful about trials. This must be for the super spiritual. For those who look hardship in the eye and say, “Praise Jesus!”
I have three words for that: No. Thank. You. I will never be super spiritual, and I hate trials.
So, if verse 2 is misread, we often stop there. If we do press on to verse 3, we halt at perseverance. “Yuck! Who likes that?!” Amazingly, if we make it to verse 4, we arrive at being mature, complete, and not lacking anything. The problem is, if loving trials and perseverance is the prerequisite to maturity, we give up.
These verses appear loaded with negative connotation, but they shouldn’t be. Verse 4 is a promise and it’s God’s desire for us! So, let’s start reading verse 2 correctly, so we can achieve the intended goal in verse 4.
We are not being asked to consider our trials pure joy. Rather the facing of those trials. The joy, pure joy to be exact, is when you know with certainty that Jesus is going to work in it and through it for you.
So, let me paraphrase this differently: Consider it pure joy when you get the opportunity to trust Jesus with a trial. We don’t take joy in the trial, but in the opportunity to trust Him with it. Big difference!
Now let me be crystal clear: We are not required to be happy about suffering. We are allowed to and fully expected to cry, grieve, get angry, etc. as we journey through difficulty. We do not have to love the trial or the process of the trial. The only thing to love is the promise that Jesus will see us through it and make us stronger as a result.
Now don’t rush past that!
There are no trials where Jesus tells us to fend for ourselves. Or trials that are too devastating for anything good to occur. Every trial gives us the opportunity to trust Jesus and, if we choose to trust Him, there is a 100% success rate that He will see it through to the end and make us more mature and complete in the process.
So, what does it look like to trust Him with a trial? One word: perseverance.
This word plays out in what you believe and how you act. In your heart you trust Him, and, in your actions, you honor Him. Both line up together. You may not like your situation, but you trust He is in it and you let integrity and conviction lead you through it.
Now before you cringe, let me stop you. I’m not finished! There’s a vital aspect to this word that is a game changer. Ready for it?
You only have to persevere one day at a time.
You don’t have to stare down the barrel of a trial and muster up enough perseverance for the entire thing, whether that be days, weeks or even years. No! Your only responsibility is for today.
Trust He is in this… today.
Act with integrity… today.
Make choices that honor Him… today.
I can do anything for a day. (Philippians 4:13) It’s imagining having to do it for a week, a month or a year that leaves me defeated. That kind of perseverance I cannot do.
Currently, I’m in a trial that keeps morphing into more trials. Today, in fact, I got an email with more bad news. I immediately reminded myself I only had to persevere for today. I cried, told God how I felt, and then fixated on verse 4. My prayer was simple:
“I will trust you with this email, knowing You are in it, not surprised by it, and fully prepared to walk me through it. In trusting You with this, I will become more mature and complete. Thank You for that promise. AMEN.”
Please know this was not a one-and-done prayer. I repeated it every time the pain crept back up. As the day went on, though, do you know what slowly bubbled up from deep within my heart?
Not overflowing joy. Just a quiet effervescence, assuring me that this will end one day, and I will be more mature.
Author and pastor, Tim Keller says, “Trials will either make you much better or much worse. But they will not leave you the same.”
I am choosing better.
I am choosing trust.
I will persevere.
One day at a time.
About the Author:
Jen Allee is a speaker and author of the Bible study Release, a six-week study overcoming fear and other areas of enslavement. You can find out about Release, invite her to speak, and catch up on her Living Intentionally blog at jenallee.com.