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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Circumstances are changing so quickly, it’s challenging to keep up. At times like these, I would normally just stay off social media and the news for awhile, take a breath and then rejoin the world. But this weekend I couldn’t. My phone constantly buzzed with updates from work & my children’s school. My inbox was filled with emails about how businesses I frequent are handling COVID-19. And my kids will be home every day starting this morning. This will require a shift in how we function: work, school, meals, laundry, cleaning, exercise, church, community, family time. Change – especially when you didn’t choose it – is tough. It’s hard to “consider it pure joy” like the Bible instructs us to, isn’t it? The thing about the Bible is that it is a book to be obeyed. God tells you and me to consider it all joy when we face all kinds of trials because we wouldn’t normally do that. That means obeying takes effort & abiding in God to accomplish it.
Trials test our faith – that seems to be a given in verse 2. When we are asking questions: will God get me through this? What about my job? Finances? All that cooking? Exercise? My parents’ health? There are so many ways my faith and your faith are tested. I’m glad God doesn’t condemn the testing. Instead, struggling through these tests of faith will grow our character. So how to we choose faith?
- Praise God. Taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on who God is (not what we want from Him) improves our perspective.
- Pray – ask God to increase your faith.
- Spend time reading your Bible. Look for passages that have to do with what you are struggling with, and be sure to read before and after – not just the verse, so you understand the whole context. There are lots of ways to look verses up. Sometimes I use Biblegateway.com to do searches.
- Take your thoughts captive. (Philippians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5) That means choosing to not dwell on things that make you fearful. When you realize your are thinking about something not beneficial, use that as a reminder to pray for someone else in an unrelated situation, recite a Bible verse or sing a song of praise.
- Ask God to give you wisdom. (James 1:2-8) Then, make a plan. (Your plan should not contradict the word and character of God.) Hold your plan loosely – God might redirect it, and that’s ok.
- Abide in Christ. (John 15:1-17) Talk with God throughout your day about how you feel or what you are thinking. Be real. Take time to quiet your heart and listen to Him.
- Talk to a trusted friend. Share what you have been going through. Listen to what they want to share. Then pray for one another.