We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

Week 1 - Personal Story

Virginia’s story

It has been 7 years since that hot August day when my husband went out to check the mail and came back in the house looking like he was in shock. I asked what was wrong and he said "you will never believe what I found in the yard." He had found pages from the Bible ripped out and laying against the trunk of the tree. The pages were from the book of Job. I had been studying my Bible when he came into the room. I said "Honey, look down." My Bible was open on the footstool in front of me to the book of Job! That is what I had been studying for a Bible study I was writing at the time.

Well of course we tried to analyze it to death to try to determine what this could possibly mean in our lives. It wasn't until years later that we looked back and realized how God was preparing us for a ministry to people who suffer loss due to crimes against them, or because of natural disasters. And so we have seen firsthand the trauma to individuals who have encountered various trials that have been completely beyond their control.

Loss is difficult in anyone's life, but seeing it in the lives of others is much different than when the loss involves your children or your own personal health. Then it becomes devastating to you personally.

And so, that brings me to James 1:2. How can we count it all joy when we encounter various trials? The trials in our lives have been many. We have experienced difficulties in our lives of all types including health. Within a 5 month period, my daughter, my husband and I have all been diagnosed with different types of cancer. During this same period of time, we sold our house and moved with a closing date set. At the last minute, the sale fell through leaving us with double expenses. At the same time, we were criticized by those closest to us. Does this sound like a Job experience? Job suffered family, possession, and health loss as well as criticism from friends.

So what have we learned from this through the years to sustain us in current circumstances? We have learned that joy does not mean 'happy'. You can have joy without enjoying! You can even be in grief but still experience joy. Joy is deeper than being happy. It is abiding in you as you abide in Christ to strengthen you with His peace in times of trouble. If I am going to count the trials, then I need to also count the joy; all of it for all of them. I know from experience that every trial that has tested our faith HAS produced endurance in us. It is this endurance which has enabled us through the next set of trials. And in those moments when I have felt like giving in to despair, the still, small voice of God whispers; “Trust Me, keep your faith". In those moments when the devastation is overwhelming, God is there to give hope and comfort. He is an ever present help in times of trouble. Is the help when and how we want it? Of course not! If it were, it would be by our own will.

But God works His will in our troubles. And it is there, in His will that we find true joy because we know we didn't have anything to do with the result except to trust Him.

Then, somewhere along the way of trials no matter what they are, He will give nuggets of His truth to cling to; nuggets that come when you least expect them. At a low point in our trials I prayed and told the Lord how weak I was in faith. He strengthened my faith by reminding me first of Job. Then, in a message from a pastor, He reminded me from Rev 3:8 that He knew my strength was weak but that I had kept His word and trusted Him. He would open doors to us that no one could shut. That was my nugget of truth for that particular low point to strengthen me till the next one. It was my nugget of truth to spur me on to continue keeping His word and continue trusting Him. God is so awesome and amazing in how He gives real encouragement to enable us to press on. He knows when we are weak, and it is in our weakness that He is made strong.

And so how do we 'count it all joy when we encounter various trials'?
-By trusting Him through them – Psalm 56:3-4
-By keeping His word – Rev. 3:8, 10
-By keeping our faith alive with hope in Him – Rev. 2:10
-By praying for those who have been critical – Job 42:10

God will strengthen, He will comfort, He will provide, He will help to see you through. Then when you pass the test, you will have proven the power of God to be victorious over Satan and his schemes to destroy. You will experience joy beyond measure from the endurance of your faith.

Yes, there are times when difficulties may be discipline, but there are other times when trials are a test of our faith; not because we are sinful, but because we are faithful. When God allowed Satan to sift Job (Job 1:8), He knew of Job’s faithfulness to God and the victory to come that would prove the power of God in Job’s life. It is in knowing this and keeping the life of Job in our minds that has given us so much hope in our trials; therefore, in our trials there is true joy! The joy comes from deep, abiding faith and in due time, the reward. Praise Him.

“…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev. 2:10c


Twisting His Arm said...

I had a wonderful time doing this week's Bible study with ya'll! I can't wait until next week. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

DA Wagners said...

Yeah! This week was totally fun. Doing my Bible study really helped to daily focus my thoughts on what was truly important. I look forward to next week!