Hey friend! Welcome to episode 9 of the Tending your Soul podcast. When I unlatch the gate and step into my little backyard salsa garden these days, I am amazed at how quickly the tomatoes are growing, it causes them to increasingly lean on the tomato cage around them. It bring to my mind the reminder of the reality that as I tend my soul in the Word of God, I will not ever gain godliness without and increased lean on God.
As we use the TEND method to unfold God’s Word on this podcast and in our own time with Jesus, let’s remember it is really an invitation to lean on God and trust the truth of His Word with increased certainty.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the book of James and begin by taking time to pray.
Father God, we thank you that you are the gardener who tends the soil of our heart in order to shape us into the fruitful child you see. Would you press the seed of your word into my heart today and help me to know you better as a result? Amen.
So when we approach God’s Word using the TEND method, we first take that time to pray then we want to slow down and examine the Scripture. Today let’s examine James 1:2-4, it says:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
These may be familiar verses for you. But before we let familiarity rob us of awe in these verses, Let’s really lean in and see what it’s saying.
We all walk through trials, of “various kinds” is what the Scripture says here…big trials of a job loss or a diagnosis and little trials of a head cold or being cut off in traffic.
Our world is not lacking in sending trials our way either. We are surrounded by hard trials, pandemics, shooting, tragedies and terrors. We are surrounded with various trials of noisy social media and gas price increases.
we can finding ourselves drowning in the overwhelm with the waves of anxiety swelling over us!
He calls us to a different story, a new response. James opens his letter right out of the gate with “Count it ALL joy WHEN you meet trials of various kinds.” The word here for trials can also be translated “temptations”…which in itself can be another trial. Temptations to sin, to self protection, to bitterness, self comfort, addictions and wanderings.
Yet God calls us to count these trials and temptations with JOY knowing they are with purpose…they are there to test our faith and produce steadfastness. The word joy here is from the Greek word chara, meaning “grace recognized”.
God is calling us to recognize the grace in the hard places. Like treasures in darkness, as Isaiah 45:3 says. Isn’t that a fascinating perspective He offers?
In Examining the scripture, we also come to the word “Steadfastness” and that is a word that speaks of patient enduring. A remaining. A patience with hard circumstances. Man, don’t we need that!
God knows we aren’t wimps. We can be steadfast in Him. The question is, do we know that?
So once we have examined the verses, we move to noticing the lessons here. What is this teaching about God? Ultimately we see that God has purpose in our trials. Nothing is in vain with Him.
Our lesson here that seems to rise to the surface is that we are invited to see from God’s perspective when we encounter trials of any kind. We can lean on God knowing that our trials test our faith, not to see if our faith will pass or fail, but rather to prove it genuine, to develop steadfastness and perseverance in our faith.
It’s like working out to test our muscles, the muscles get stronger and firmer as we test them repeatedly with weights. Or so ive heard lol
So it is with our faith.
These trials keep testing this faith of ours until we are perfect, complete, not lacking anything. When we see Jesus face to face, we will greet him with a complete faith in Him bc of the shaping He has done in us. He is so faithful to see us through too.
As we turn our lesson into a question we can respond to, we can ask: How can I better see from God’s perspective? How can I see the current trial or temptation in my life with joy, reminding myself that it has purpose?
Some trials are nearly unspeakable. Burying a loved one, facing bankruptcy due to a job loss, being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Even hearing of the death of a classroom of children and their teachers. How do we count these with JOY? God isn’t calling us to a Pollyanna reality, but rather a hope filled joy of knowing that THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS.
There is hope for you and for me in these dyer situations and heart wrenching circumstances. God WILL reconcile all the things. All the things.
It also offers me perspective in the smaller things that maybe FEEL big in the moment…a cancelled vacation, a head cold that won’t quit, a late bill or being cut off in traffic. We are BOMBARDED.
But God. How can I have His hope in the hard things and His perspective in the smaller things?
I think our response comes right from James 1:3…we can KNOW that ALL of this has purpose.
So today I can turn my eyes towards Jesus in the midst of an ongoing trial that is weighing so heavily.
I can take that very thing to God in prayer.
Then in the annoyances, I can look to heaven and remember, He knows, He sees and He is with me. I might even then be inclined to pray for the guy who cut me off in traffic!
Joy in trials are to remind us to KNOW, my friend, that He wastes NOTHING.
I wonder what varied trials are you encountering this week?
What pain, hardship and temptations are threatening to swallow you?
Oh friend, how can you shift and get God’s perspective today and begin to consider joy right there in the hardship? Right in the middle of loss, grief, pain, fear…How can you tilt back your face towards heaven and recognize grace?
Oh Lord, would you open our eyes to the grace gifts in the hard places? How we yearn to be steadfast in faith! Remind us it comes only from leaning hard on Your everlasting arms. In the upholding name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Are you enjoying this journey in James? Would you want a group of ladies to share it with?
Just like companion planting in a garden helps the worms stay off the tomatoes when I plant the jalapeños right next to them, having one another to offer encouragement and support around the word helps us to bear much fruit!
I invite you to join us in Tending through James, beginning July 12, 2022. This is a weekly online bible study where we TEND through the verses and share together the lessons God is teaching. In this podcast we will tend through ch 1 but in our TEND Gathering we will unfold the truths through all of James and God is sure to cast the light we need on the path ahead. So you don’t want to miss out!
Click here to sign up for Tending through James.
If you are listening to this after July 2022, I invite you to keep tending your soul through James with my Tending through the Word journal that is available on Amazon.