Those four little words may not dare be uttered out of our mouths, but how many times do our actions reflect otherwise? For me, I’m pretty sure it is almost daily. Life is good right now. Things are rocking along just fine. But what happens when things are going good? We tend to gradually slip away from that desperate time we need with the Lord – on our knees and talking with our Father.
“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.” James 1:2-4
It took a long time and a couple of in depth studies of James to fully grasp what he was trying to tell us in these verses. Quite frankly they irritated me at first. Why would God like to see us face trials – plural – as in they are ongoing? This can’t be right. This isn’t the loving, nurturing God that I learned about in Sunday School as a child. It seemed cruel. Then as an adult and through a LOT of growth and study, I’ve come to love this verse. No I don’t love the thought of having various trials in my life. But what I do know is that through them all, I’ve come out on the other side stronger and closer to the Lord. THAT is where the joy comes in. That is the “aha moment” when we look back and see His hands perfectly weaving our story. He uses trails to draw us closer as His children through His perfect redeeming and healing power. It is the perfect picture of Christ our Father embracing us.
One of my most desperate times I needed God was when my husband and I were faced with that one little word diagnosis – “infertility.” How could one word cause so much pain, loss, and helplessness? We were exhausted after years of trying to conceive and testing upon more testing. We hit a brick wall and I felt like there was no way to climb over it. But it was in that desperate time in my life – when I cried for what felt like hours in the shower on my knees to God – that He began to unfold the greatest miracle to come. Now, three years after our son was placed in our arms through adoption, we are just now realizing that one word was the greatest blessing we ever had. And we certainly do count it ALL JOY for those various trials we faced to receive something far greater that God had planned for us.
Now life is good and we are a very happy family of three and no longer just a couple. Sure we’ve had a few bumps and scares in the road – especially with our parents’ health. But for the most part, we are tremendously blessed and are not in the midst of one of those trials. Yet I’ve never felt so far away from the Lord in my prayer life. This is where I am finally beginning to truly grasp the words of James. The trials produce fear and desperation for the Lord that we don’t often feel otherwise. When things are good, we tend to make God feel like we don’t need Him.
I recently wrote about my One Little Word I chose for 2015 – “Intentional.” Here is what I had to say about my prayer life: “Honestly I stink at this one. Not that I don’t pray, but that I don’t have a focused time to sit and be still with the Lord. I’m not carrying on a conversation with Him. I’m not listening for His voice. It’s more like a snip it here and there throughout the day. An “oh by the way…this just popped into my head so let me tell you before I forget about it. Or I promised them I would mention this to you, Big Guy.” My prayers are not said in reverence to Him as my Lord and Savior. I’m not coming before Him on His throne. Instead I’m just tossing words out like bean bags hoping I hit the mark.”
I would venture to say that this is true for most of us. This isn’t a judgment in the least (number one guilty party here!), but just our human nature. James knew this and that’s why he started his letter to Christians in this way.
He is a jealous God, meaning He loves us and wants that fellowship with us in good times and bad. He wants to be near us every day. And the only way this is possible is through prayer and study of His word.
I’m working hard to keep praying even when “I” think life is good. Maybe I just need to be still in His presence and listen to Him. Prayer shouldn’t be a one way conversation where I just spit out my requests and concerns to God. I yearn to hear what He has to say to me. And now that I may be on top of a mountain in between valleys, I need to know what He would have me do during this time to minister to others who are in those deep valleys of life. Just because “I” don’t have any aching moments of desperation at this very moment doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t pray for those that do. There is never a shortage of things to pray about or to praise Him for. So what are we waiting for? He is already bending down waiting to listen and to speak to us. All we have to do is engage right where we are. It is through that time in scripture and prayer each day that we realize just how much we really do need God.
“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:2
Jenny Jerkins is a Staff Storyteller for Adoption.com , and co-writer over at Our Not So Engineered Life where loves to share about infertility, adoption, motherhood, life, and God's glory through it all. She is a wife and former engineer turned stay-at-home mom of an energetic, smart, and hilarious little boy. Grateful for infertility, she became a mom through adoption, which has opened her heart in ways she never new possible and also brought them the blessing of open adoption. She is an active member of several adoption communities and loves uniting and educating others. She has a fierce passion for orphan care and birth moms. Jenny is actively involved in Reaching Hands Adoption Ministry in the Augusta, GA area and facilitates a small home based women's Bible study group. She is also addicted to caffeine, cupcakes, and using silly hashtags.
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