By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
A Reading from James 1:1-15
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.
As a swashbuckling movie hero once observed, “Life IS pain. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.” Scripture confirms that pain and trials are inevitable; they’re a part of life. But that isn’t ALL of life. It doesn’t have to make us miserable — especially if we can learn to “count it all joy” — to recognize that as difficult, or even excruciating as it can be, pain can serve a greater purpose. Our pain can actually serve us.
Pain can test us, pain can teach us. It can help us develop discipline, strength, and endurance, wisdom and maturity. All at the same time the same time, pain can sharpen our focus, broaden our perspective and pinpoint our true priorities.
Pain can drive us deep into the heart of God, as we cry out for him. Pain can lead us to a new and profound experience of his presence, his peace. Pain can help us more closely identify with and follow the example of Jesus, the “Man of Sorrows” who himself “learned obedience from what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
Pain can motivate us to take action — to make changes in our own lives or make a difference in the world around us. Pain — ours and others — can compel us to stand up for truth and righteousness, speak up on behalf of the poor and the oppressed, those who cannot speak for themselves.
Perhaps most significantly, our experience of pain can give us greater compassion for the hurting people we encounter every day. It can show us how to help. What a joy to love others as God has loved us, to be empowered to comfort them with the comfort he has given us (2 Cor. 1:3-4)!
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, M.A. (Bible and Theology), is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Society of Mary, American Region
The Diocese of Bunbury (Anglican Church of Australia)