Can you imagine being James, the brother of Jesus?  WOW!!!  Talk about being in your brother’s shadow!!  I’m sure James wondered how in the world he could make an impact on humanity following His brother’s life!

But as I read the book of James I realize how smart he was.  I realize that he was called to a purpose, too.  James was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem and his letter was addressed to Christians everywhere.  We can learn so much from the letter from James.

He gives practical advice on things from anger and controlling your tongue to showing favoritism and patience.  And what better person to learn practical advice from than the brother of the Saviour!

 His letter starts off talking about trials in our lives.  We all have trials.  He says to consider it pure joy when we face trial of many kinds.  Now I try to follow what the Bible teaches and understand how to live a better Christian life but this was bizarre to me at first when I read this.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  (James 1:2-3).

Well I can tell you that when I’m going through trials, the first thing on my mind is NOT joy!

BUT…….when I look back on some of my trials, I can definitely see how God used that trial to get me to where I am. And when I look at where I am, I realize that I persevered through and came out stronger in faith and can sometimes see JOY that came from it all!!

Several years ago, we left our church.  I had been going to that church my whole life!  I was hurt when we left.  I cried for many months wondering why God allowed such hurt to happen that caused us to have to leave our church.

But after a few years, I was able to look back on that experience and find some reasoning behind it all.  God had been calling my husband and me to leave that church for over a year.  We talked about it but it was “comfortable”.  It seemed to be a safe place and we were complacent in our first pew in the back section doing the same routine every Sunday but we knew we needed to move on to find somewhere that was better suited for us.

When we didn’t listen, God allowed things to happen that caused us to pick up and move.  Through that terrible trial and hurt, I see how much I have grown in my Christian faith.  We have found a wonderful church that suits our family perfectly.  We love the music; we love the pastors; we love our Sunday School class; and we love our friends.

At the onset of the “church leaving trial”, we were finding that our friend selection was almost depleted.  God knew that we were growing in different directions than the friends we had at the time, and He knew that He had a great set of friends waiting for us at this new church. 

I just had to trust Him.  I had to get through the testing of my faith. I had to NOT give up on church.  I had to learn to forgive.  I had to learn to trust.  I had to learn to step outside of my normal, same routine church service into a fabulous way of worship that we may never have experienced had we not left our old church.

James continues in chapter 1 saying that “perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 

As hard as it was for me to go through those couple of years of finding the right church and getting over the hurt and learning to forgive, I see how much stronger I have become in many areas of my life and how persevering through those trials and staying strong to the end – even when it was uncomfortable to try somewhere and something new – was God’s way of finishing His work in me so that I would mature and feel complete in His presence; in my Christian walk.

The last three words of that verse really helped me understand this “pure-joy-of-trials-and-perseverance” stuff……………not lacking anything.

By that I mean He not only gave us a wonderful church but in the midst of all those trials and focusing on finding a good church, he opened up our hearts and blessed us with the greatest of friends in the whole wide world.  We went in looking for worship and we came out with a family of friends.  He made sure we were not lacking in anything.  He knew how important friends would be to us as we entered the next phase of trials.  He knew that those friends would need us, too as they were going through their own trials.

WOW!!  God used these trials all for good.  James had to live in the shadow of His brother, but I have a feeling He was proud to be called a brother of Jesus.  I have a feeling that his trials helped him to write a wonderful letter that is being used every day thousands of years later to help Christians in their every day lives. 

Thanks, James for your words of wisdom – even though I didn’t like them when I first read them and thank you James’s brother, Jesus, for being with us through those trials James talked about and thank you Father God for knowing that all of this winds back around to Your plan and Your blessings.  

OH!!  And thank you for my wonderful friends who I consider to be the Pure Joy in that whole trial stuff!!   Emoji