Sometimes life leaves us lying flat on our face. Sometimes it feels like we will never be able to get up from this pit of despair. Sometimes it feels like we will be at rock bottom forever. Has life ever left you feeling that way? Has life ever left you feeling so low that the only thing you can do is look up?
God calls us to have joy in trials. I don't know about you, but when I read that verse, I sometimes think maybe God miswrote. Maybe God didn't really mean that we have to have joy in trials? I mean, why would He ask something so difficult out of us?
Because it will test and refine our faith. It will show if our faith is true or not.
It's easy to have joy when life is going good. But what about when trials strike?
In this current season of my life, I am discovering the exact meaning of this well known verse from James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you can become mature and complete, lacking nothing." I've read this verse many times in my life. I thought I understood it. But what I have come to see is that sometimes, due to our own personal pride, we have to hit rock bottom before we can truly depend completely, wholeheartedly, only on God. In our own pride and selfishness, we think we have all things under control. We think we can handle the situations and circumstances life throws at us.
For many of us, we don't run to God at all times, even though this is what He calls us to do. Maybe we praise Him at the mountain top?
Maybe you just got that promotion you had been trying so hard for? Glory to God.
Maybe that man you love so much finally proposed? Glory to God.
Maybe your child is finally healed? Glory to God.
Sometimes, it's easy at the mountaintops to praise God.
Maybe for you, life is going mediocre. Sure, you have stresses, but don't we all? Sure, there are areas of your life that you wish were better, but you got it under control.
Maybe you, like me, have been so blinded by your own pride that you have just walked the daily walk of life, acknowledging God when life's busy schedule allowed, but not truly giving your full attention to Him.
Maybe you, like me, have been so stubborn that it has required you to hit rock bottom before surrendering it all.
God doesn't want us to only come to him during mountaintop or valley moments. God wants us clinging to him day in and day out. God wants us going to Him first, not as a last resort.
But, one thing I do know is that God can use our valleys. God can use our trials. And it is possible to have joy in trials. I just pray that for you, you seek God before the rock bottom. You experience His joy always.
My life has been going through some major trials for the past year. I almost lost my 9 month old due to a febrile seizure that involved choking on his food, turning blue, and no longer breathing. God miraculously provided a pediatric ER nurse in the exact same area at that exact moment who knew exactly what to do to save my baby. I know in my heart, had she not been there, my son wouldn't be here today. My husband and I were both in panic mode. We would not have been able to save him. You would think, a moment like that would wake me up to see just how all powerful God is. But, I continued to try to control my life on my own.
A month later, my husband become deathly ill with spinal meningitis. I found him passed out in his work truck, almost lifeless. Prior to this, he had see 4 doctors that all just sent him home diagnosed with headaches. God in that moment led me to the exact doctor that saved his life. Without a second question, that doctor said it was spinal meningitis. He immediately did a spinal tap to confirm. The doctor we had sen the day before said there was only a 5% chance it could have been spinal meningitis, and it wasn't worth checking for because if it were that, he would have already been dead. Had God not placed on my heart to go to this specific hospital that day, my husband would not be alive today. The doctor said had his condition gone on much longer, he would not have survived. You would think, a moment like that would wake me up to see just how all powerful God is. But, I continued to try to control my life on my own.
Between that moment to my current rock bottom, I have multiple instances like that I could mention, but it would require an entire book (which due to God continuing to prompt me, is currently in the making). This past week, my husband and I decided to separate for a time being. This is my rock bottom. But, this is also my breakthrough. I completely understand this verse in James 1 now like I never have before. Sure, I have experienced trials. This is by far my hardest trial I've faced thus far. But, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, that Heaven has come to fight for me. That satan does not stand a chance against my marriage. One week ago, I could not have told you that. I had doubts. But then, I hit rock bottom, I lifted my hands to the sky, and I claimed victory over my marriage. I finally surrendered it all to God. My marriage, my business, my child, my life. I haven't been able to raise my hand in worship for the past six months. But when I fully surrendered, it was like freedom came over me. I raise my hands high to God during this difficult trial because He has assured me that this battle is not mine. The victory has already been won and He has come to fight for me.
That doesn't mean this journey will be easy, and neither will yours. The Bible never promises an easy road. But I am doing my very best to consider it joy during this trial. Do I sometimes feel angry at God? Yes. But I take captive that thought and remind myself that this trial is producing perseverance in both my husband and myself.
Perseverance is defined as doing something despite difficulty. Today, I am choosing to love him despite how difficult it feels. Today, I am choosing to choose joy despite how difficult it feels.
And by doing that, God is changing me. God is making me mature and complete, so that when this trial is over, I will be so much better than I ever have been. I have to allow God to do this work in and through me, because I don't know about you, but I don't want to be lacking anything. James 1 says that trials and testing of our faith will produce perseverance so that we become mature, complete, lacking nothing.
I'm not sure what your current life situation looks like. I know that you have struggles. I know you feel alone.
You may not be at rock bottom yet. Don't wait until then to praise God. He deserves all praise no matter how our life situation looks. You may be at rock bottom. If you are, I just want to remind you that you are NOT alone. He will use every tear. I know it hurts. But don't lose your faith. Don't shut God out. Because if you try, despite the difficulty, to keep joy and let Him work through this, I promise you will come out SO MUCH STRONGER.