Our family has been on the run and in dire need of a day off with no obligations. Today we missed church but had a little devotional time around our kitchen counter instead. I asked the boys to write down three things that they were thankful to God for.
Micah's list was:
I asked him to consolidate the three into one since we all are "family" so the final draft read:
"I'm thankful for myself. I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful for my family and Jesus and shelter."
Naturally like my boys I tend to thank God for the good in my life (and Micah happens to LOVE shoes like his mommy). Rarely do I thank Him for adversity or hardships. Of course I call out to Him in the midst of troubled times but how often do I actually praise Him in the storm?
Today I shared from James 1:2-3 with my little ones,
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (NIV)
The Message states the same couple of verses,
"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."
I memorized part of James when I was ten years old and in bible quizzing. I have had these verses tucked away in my mind for 22 years but today I was reminded of them in a whole new way. So often I want to weasel my way out of hardships or pray them out of my life. But maybe God is maturing and developing my faith in certain situations and He is not done using them to refine my faith to a deeper level. Maybe I should start to look at the pressures of life and trials that come my way as big shiny packages tied up with beautiful ribbons instead of burdens that weigh me down and hinder me. Like a competitive athlete who wants to succeed and win the game I could begin to have the attitude of "Bring It On!"
"...If God is for me, who can be against me?" Romans 8:31
Not only do I want God's will for my life, I want to do life with God. Sometimes His presents aren't so pretty. Nevertheless I am told to be joyful and thankful for enduring and persevering through rough waters. Thankfully I am not alone while wading through the waves. The hand of my Savior is grasping my scared, shaking hand and God's peaceful Spirit is calming my every fear each step of the way.