Monday, August 27, 2012

How To Make Problems Beautiful Things

Earlier this week, Michael Hyatt wrote and article titled "Why You Should Welcome Problems."  Great post about how problems at work bring opportunities, including growth and promotions.    That got me to thinking, "what about problems outside of work, such as at home?"  No promotions or pay raises for problem solving at home.

Yet, every family has problems.

As illness, doctor visits, and tests came upon our home this week, my "fight or flight" reaction surfaced.  Anxiety and frustration set in, adding to the issue.  "I don't need this," I think.  Or do I?

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 nothing.  - James 1:2-4
Maybe I do.

This familiar verse if often quoted in the midst of difficulty - "count it all joy."  It has been my experience, however, that James's instruction, to "count it all joy," is cited more often than the reason behind the imperative.  Perhaps understanding the benefit can help us embrace this difficult challenge.

In the broader context, James wrote to believers with content about what authentic Christian living looks like.  If he were a blogger, he'd have a catchy headline such as "How to Be a Christian During 1st Century Persecution" and he'd have bullet points.  The verses we're considering in this post is one of his bullet points.

Why does the testing of our faith produce steadfastness?  And what is steadfastness anyway?

The New American Standard Version translates the same original Greek word "endurance."  The New International Version "perseverance."  The way I see it, the testing of our faith through difficulty makes our faith strong enough to stand up to the long haul of life.

Over breakfast one morning, Darling Bride and I talked about how we may have gotten complacent.  Once upon a time, we were getting up early for Bible study and breakfast.  Over time, we put our Bibles away to make time for exercise.  Then came income tax season with longer hours.  To accommodate, we started sleeping in.  After tax season, sleeping in became a habit.  The result is a loss of steadfastness, temptation to "flight," rather than "fight," when a trial comes.

Now it is time to step up.  We've signed up for training through our local church.  We will be learning how to help others handle and apply the Bible in their lives.  First, the classmembers will be taught how to handle the Word in our own lives.  We will have Bible - based homework.

Action point:  Identify a problem (or trial, to use a theological term) that if considered joy, would produce steadfastness.  If possible, choose a trial you've been running from and need to make a u-turn to.  Commit to the process.  If you like, leave a comment!

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