As a believer and follower of Christ, what is your first thought when a troublesome situation arises?
In the letter of James to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad, he writes;
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:2-8 (NLT2)
Something I have learned in life is that "Nothing of great and lasting value ever comes easy." We begin to learn and understand this from childhood.
For example, consider how difficult it was to learn how to ride a bicycle. The bike I learned to ride didn't have any training wheels and I fell down plenty of times while learning to ride. At one point I got so frustrated I seriously considered giving up. But I didn't, because I wanted to be able to ride my bike with the other kids who lived near me. The reward for not giving up was so great, that I forgot how long and difficult it was for me to reach my goal.
As I grew older, I seemed to lose my desire to do work hard and started looking for shortcuts. Naturally the results were not as rewarding, nor did they seem to have any lasting power. Instead of being fulfilled with a job well done, I began to realize frustration and disappointment. Even so, there was a lesson for me to learn, and I am glad I did.
What was the lesson? I learned that life is much harder to live and appreciate by doing things my way, instead of the right (correct) way. Trying to force everything and everyone to conform to my way of thinking only resulted in loss. There was nothing of great and lasting value in living my life in such a manner. It taught me that I needed a new, selfless, perspective.
When I came to such a realization and remembered some of the things I had learned when I was young, but had discarded as I grew older, I made the decision to sacrifice my way of living for a better way. I surrendered my will over to God, through Christ.
Just like when I was learning to ride my bicycle, I fall down. But I do not give up. I continue striving to live life according to My Father and His Son, who made it possible for me to have this second chance at life. By not giving up and continually striving to live according to God's Spirit (his will), I do not fall as often as I used to. And the reward for not giving up is so great, I sometimes wonder what took me so long to surrender my will for His.
Now when troubles come my way, I no longer see them as unpleasant obstacles to deal with, but as opportunities to practice trusting in, living for, and pleasing The One who gave me the opportunity to live and begin to know His perfect peace and love.