I like gifts. I like to give them and I like to get them. My husband, Dave, is not a big gift giver. In twenty-seven years of marriage, I think he's given me flowers twice. On my fifty-fifth birthday, Dave brought me fifty-five roses and said, "This has to last a long time." He's the type of guy who, if he's going to do something, likes to accomplish a lot all at once.
It used to really offend me when Dave wouldn't do what I wanted him to do – even something as small as not getting me flowers or a birthday gift. Sometimes I would be mad at him for days when he disappointed me. My selfish, insecure attitude made my relationship with Dave difficult.
It was a trial!
Thankfully, I finally got tired of living like this and became determined to do whatever I had to do to get God's peace. That's when I saw the truth: My discontentment with Dave was my problem, not his. And the real problem was that I was discontent with myself. I was spiritually immature and needed to grow up!
James 1:2-4 is a great scripture that explains how we can become mature through trials: Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing (The Amplified Bible).
There are all kinds of trials – sinful attitudes, being mistreated or abused, an accident or health crisis, and on and on. If you're not dealing with a trial right now, chances are you've recently experienced one. We all go through them, and we all have to decide whether we'll let them make us better or bitter.
Now, Satan uses trials to tempt us to enter into sinful behavior and mistreat people. But God permits trials to help us grow in faith and to test us. Trials show us about us! That's why they are so valuable – they reveal our true character or nature, as well as our points of weakness. It's good for us to be aware of our weaknesses because then we can go to God and get the help we really need.
When I got a revelation about my selfishness and insecurity, I was able to seek God for His love, forgiveness and power to change my heart. I wanted His peace and joy, not the continual unrest and frustration I was living in at the time. I wanted to be content, happy with what I had and not jealous of others or critical of them. And like the scripture in James says, I needed endurance, steadfastness and patience!
Another revelation that God has given me is that we can't have authority over the devil while we're acting like him! Being critical, judgmental, self-centered…all of these attitudes cause us to blame others for our problems and keep us from becoming like Christ. It's so easy to blame others. But what we really need to do is take responsibility for our attitudes and behavior and let God do a thorough work so we can be recreated in Christ Jesus and do good works that glorify God and help people.
God wants us to be His witnesses to the world. One of the most powerful ways we can do this is by being joyful and peaceful while we're going through trials. We will have problems, but we can't let problems have us. We need to have an attitude that says, "All things work together for good for those who love God." We need to believe and say what the Bible says and not how we feel – especially when we're struggling.
I want to encourage you, whatever is going on in your life right now, to trust God, embrace His Word, and strive to live your life His way. He has good plans for you and will help you grow up so you can really live them!