“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” (James 1:2, The Message).
By now you’ve discovered that God doesn’t do things our way. “My ways are not your ways,” He tells us, “and My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Often you will find that things in the Kingdom are the opposite to things in this world.
For example, he that puts himself first will be last; he that would be great, must becomes the servant. And so on and so on.
In this world of ours, trouble is TROUBLE. But not so in the Kingdom.
There, trouble is a GIFT. “A sheer gift,” James tells us. Pure and unmixed, complete and all inclusive — like sheer joy. So the Bible tells us to count it all joy when we are hammered by hard times!
Why? Because God is up to something so extraordinarily wonderful that once we see what it is He is doing, we will be beside ourselves with unspeakable delight! Yes, He is working on something in us; and once He puts it on display it will fills others with wonder…and we ourselves will be flooded with joy.
Here’s what James goes on to tell us — “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:3-4, The Message). Mature. well-developed, and not deficient in any way. How’s that for starters?
So while others around you may be wringing their hands in dismay, and moaning over losing this or that — you lift your vision higher and see the Lord’s hand at work in your affairs; making you everything you ever dreamed of becoming — and more!
Like a blacksmith, God is using the fire and pressure of hard times to shape you into something powerful and useful. And you would do well to consider that “a sheer gift” — for indeed it is!