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Joy and Pain

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” James 1:2-4

Do you ever wonder how they did it?  They being the disciples and followers of Christ; those early Christians, Paul, James, Peter, and the others.  Do you ever wonder how they kept going on, teaching others about Christ? Loving others as those same people hated them, persecuted them, and drove them from their home and often times their family?  I do.  Sometimes, you get tired of loving people in spite of how they sometimes persecute you, hate you, or wrong you.  The very people that killed Paul, James, Peter and all of those early Christians were most likely not their enemies, instead, some may have been their family, friends, or even complete strangers.  All “knew not what they did”.  Yet in spite of that, those men kept pressing on, they loved, worked, and followed Christ to death.  And following Christ means loving people.

This week, for a brief moment, I felt like stopping trying.  As I write this, I can’t even think why I thought it.  I just simply wondered what my life would be like if I stopped loving and showing love to the people that I do.  What would happen if I stopped trying to show others the face of Christ?  However as soon as the thought came, I realized I don’t have that right or luxury as a follower of Christ.  You don’t either.

Those early Christians experienced death, torture, ostracization from family and friends, and everything in between.  Yet they did not stop.  They kept pressing; yes they were tired and I am sure they felt defeated at times, but they kept going.  Why? Because OUR God was bigger than their pain, He was bigger than their fear, and bigger than their trials.  Our God.

That’s what James meant when he wrote these very words.  We should count everything as joy because we are being molded and shaped…perfected… into the very image of Christ by our trials.  And in that perfection, we come to rely on Christ and follow Him deeper.

As we start another week, you may experience a trial or a set-back, but keep pressing, keep counting it all joy because our God is bigger and greater than any situation or trial.