Yesterday, I wrote about being joyful in all circumstances. It's pretty funny that when you begin to read about something in the Bible, or even talk about it, how quickly it can come up in your life. Between the time I left church yesterday and this morning, I have felt a constant attack on my joy. Between driving in city traffic (my car was nearly hit twice by reckless drivers), going over budget on the boys baseball gear (all four are playing baseball and T-ball this year), trying to get emergency supplies in case the oncoming winter storm knocks out our power, being tested on personal things, and this morning, my truck not starting, I've been tested over and again. To be honest, I don't think I did very well, but it opened my eyes that the enemy is trying to blow holes in my walk with Christ while the Lord is trying to improve my faith. When the blacksmith's hammer hits the metal in a forge, it's doing so to strengthen and shape the object being forged. When it is brought in to the fire, it's to remove the impurities and soften it to allow for it to be shaped as the blacksmith desires. It is much the same way in our faith. This is why we need to improve our faith through the Scriptures. We're constantly being tested, constantly being pressed upon by the enemy, and each time, the Lord is calling us to rely on Him more and more. We, like the metal, are being shaped and forged. God is burning away our impurities, while strengthening our faith so that, in all circumstances, we can learn to rely on Him. The testing of our faith produces strength, and so we should count it all joy when such tests arise! James 1:2-18 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.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.