The timing of this devo is funny for me. I have been lucky enough to live a pretty smooth life for the past few years. Knowing that the sermon from this past Sunday focused on trials and how we respond to them, I didn’t have much personal experience. But then I tore my meniscus, and it seems as if the material I needed just fell onto my lap — or, more accurately, my left knee.
James leaves little to question on how we should respond to trials. But it can be difficult to “count it all joy” when every normal task becomes more laborious. Whether it’s making a sandwich for lunch or trekking upstairs to get something in my room, every physical movement I make has to be adjusted. But I’ve found that the physical burden has not bothered me as much as the burden I impose on others. I have found that I need a lot of help to do normal, small tasks. From carrying my water bottle to driving me from place to place, I feel as if I’m only inconveniencing other people in this time. There isn’t much I can do for myself.
I was explaining this frustration — how I just feel like a burden to everyone around me — to one of my friends. Her response was immediately disarming. “It’s a cool way of seeing God, too. We offer him nothing, and he gives continually, without question.”
One thing I have found to be true is that God will use trials to remind us that the best place for us to be is a place of dependence on him. It’s just so easy to get caught up in our comfortable lives. Being American affords us so many comforts that aren’t even imaginable to the majority of the world. Our culture is one of excess and access. We get distracted from the fact that we are completely in need of the Savior.
Trials are not God’s way of punishing us for disobedience. He doesn’t treat based on our condition. Christ took that. He carried the burden. He took our cross. He was crucified to pay for our sin. God raised Him from the dead to defeat our sin once and for all. And he offers that victory to us, freely! If we believe that we need to pay a penance for our failures, then we are doing one of two things: belittling our sin, thinking it’s small enough that we can cover it, or belittling the cross, thinking that it is not powerful enough to cover our sin. Do not let your shame blind you or chain you – Christ gives you freedom from that.
Our God masterfully creates beauty from the trials in our life. There is nothing more lovely than undefiled dependence on Christ; its how we were created to live! James reminds us to count our trials as joy because they create a sort of homecoming. We come home to “Christ, who is your life,” (Colossians 3:4). How constant is our communion with Him when we are fully aware of how much we need Him? My current dependence on others to help meet my physical needs points me to my lifelong dependence on Christ, the Savior to all. Let your trials produce, “Steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:3-4).
Here are some worship songs that I have found encouraging in times of discouragement: