James 1:2-4 (NIV)
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.
It sounds daft to be happy about going through trials and difficult situations, but Paul explained that they help us develop perseverance and maturity. I like how The Message Paraphrase puts it.
James 1:2-4 (Msg)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 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.
It's impossible to see all of the painting when you are standing with your nose up against it. It's not until you take a step back that you can see the whole picture. Life is like that. When you're in the middle of a difficult season, like a global pandemic, lockdown, a serious health condition, family breakdown, it's very hard to see anything else. Sometimes it's not until years later that you can see how that difficulty helped you become a better person.
When I'm in those seasons, I press into Jesus - I read my Bible, pray, praise, spend time with Christian brothers and sisters. It's in those times I can relate to what God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. It's by the grace of God that I get through.
Just like Winter ends, the seasons of life don't last forever either. I'm a Summer person and sometimes it feels as though Winter is never going to end, but it does. I have to remind myself that Spring is coming and then Summer after it. In the middle of your trials remember that the difficult season you are facing right now won't last forever and that God is helping you through it.
I love this passage in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. I love the poetry of the New International Version. Paul said, We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. You don't need me to tell you that life can be hard. There is family conflict, divorce, school stress, friendship problems, mental health concerns, disease, war, violence, crime, abuse... It's easy to get overwhelmed when it practically smacks us in the face every day on the television, on the radio, in conversation... Paul said that they were hard pressed, perplexed and struck down but not crushed, in despair or abandoned. He explains whey in the rest of the chapter. Verse 14 says, We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. We know that God is preparing a better place for us for eternity, that is what sustains us when we are hard pressed, perplexed and struck down. Verse 16-18 says, That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. Praise God that the troubles you are facing right now, won't last forever, so hang in there!
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.