Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
When we are facing a seemingly impossible moment–what I call a “Red Sea moment”–some people complain and other people respond in fear. When we encounter difficult circumstances in life, often our response is simply to tolerate them. We accept our situation as something God has allowed into our lives, but instead of taking the opportunity to grow in faith and trust in God, we choose merely to grin and bear it. The thinking behind this kind of response goes something like this: “Okay, God, I know You allowed this circumstance for some reason, but I am not happy about it. I will just grit my teeth and get through it. I guess that is what I am supposed to do.”
This reminds me of the story I heard years ago of a boy who attended a church service with his mother. As young boys often do, he had a difficult time sitting still during the sermon. Before long, he just could not contain his wiggles and stood up. His mother immediately told him to sit down. A few moments later, he stood up again. And again, his mother reprimanded him–this time whispering sternly to him the discipline she would enforce if he chose to stand up again. With a pout, the little boy plopped down in the pew. Then he told his mother defiantly, “I may be sitting on the outside, but I am standing on the inside!”
Far too many Christians choose a similar response when it comes to facing our Red Sea moments. We tolerate them out of a sense of religious duty. But though we appear to be obeying God on the outside, in reality we are pouting and defiant on the inside.
In contrast to this type of response, the Apostle James encourages us to go beyond a grit-your-teeth determination to catch a glimpse of God’s grander design: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is the fruit of Spirit. When we allow our moments of crisis to rob us of our joy, we are quenching the Holy Spirit’s work in our life and, as a result, we miss the opportunity to develop the perseverance that leads to spiritual maturity. When we encounter difficult circumstances, instead of merely tolerating them, we ought to choose to trust God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Seizing Your Red Sea Moment” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.