Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.
(James 1:2-4 Voice)
The past year has been a continuous faith walk for our family, filled with too many tears and even more prayers. I can joyfully say that our faith has grown in abundance – collectively, as well as individually. There is no comparison to making it through to the other side of a trial – you find yourself not only stronger, but confident – recognizing that without God, you would not have made it. I find it difficult to finish a praise & worship song without getting emotional – there’s a new sense of appreciation for just how great God truly is! It also makes me feel such despair for those who don’t know the loving kindness of a God who promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us!
When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy [Blessed is the one who perseveres/endures trials/temptations]. After they have proved their faith [stood/endured/passed the test], God will reward them with life forever [they will receive the crown of life; alludes to the laurel crown given for a victory]. God [He] promised this to all those who love him.
(James 1:12 EXP)
Many nights when fears would try to overwhelm me, I would recite Psalm 23. With each verse I spoke, I began to claim it as my own. When I break down the message of the Psalm, I saw these points: we are never alone, God is with us; God protects us, no matter what we go through; we can still enjoy life, regardless of our circumstances. Another benefit to reciting scripture when struggling, it allows us to change the focus of our thoughts [it’s difficult to be negative when we’re reminded of all of God’s goodness].
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
(Philippians 4:4,6-8 NLT)
Taking each day one day at a time and not worrying about tomorrow was probably my biggest hurdle [although I’d been told that a million times before, it never really sunk in]. Once I got that promise, deep down in my soul – I was able to focus on the day I’d been given – recognizing that not one day is guaranteed to anyone [and how much more precious does that make the day we’re living in]! I had stopped worrying about tomorrow and found that when tomorrow came – I was no longer anxious – I had God’s peace and I was able to handle all that was in front of me. I hope you can grab onto this as well and realize it’s a vicious cycle when you steal your today by having fear and anxiety for tomorrow!
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
(Matthew 6:34 MSG)