Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” James 1:2-4

A friend of mine had been very successful in business, but after he became a Christian everything seemed to go wrong. Problem after problem seemed to plague him. Yet he never seemed to be discouraged or defeated.

As we counselled together, he assured me that there was no unconfessed sin in his life. So I rejoiced with him that God was preparing him for a very important responsibility in His kingdom. That is exactly what happened. He is now the director of a very fruitful ministry for our Lord. The problems and testing served to help equip him to be a better ambassador for Christ.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your life – physical illness, loss of loved ones, financial adversity – remember the above admonition from God’s Word. Be happy, knowing that God will work in your life to accomplish His holy purpose.

You can decide how you will respond to problems and temptations – you can either become critical and cynical, or as an act of the will, by faith, you can choose to believe that our sovereign, loving God is allowing this to happen in your life for your own good and for His glory.

Even the hairs of your head are numbered. “His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, KJV). He is tender, loving and compassionate, concerned about your every need.

Bible Reading:  James 1:5-12

When difficulties and temptations enter into my life I will – as an act of the will, by faith in God’s faithfulness to His promises – rejoice and be glad, knowing that He is always with me and will never forsake me. As I trust Him and obey Him, he will supernaturally turn tragedy to triumph, and He will change heartache and sorrow to joy and rejoicing. I will trust Him in the darkest night of circumstances.

I am grieved by the tone of today’s rhetoric as I am sure you are.

There is so much toxic public conversation with accusation, shaming, vulgarity, you-name-it. It troubles me. Are we like the frog in the proverbial pot of water on the stove, with the temperature being raised so slowly that we did not jump out when there was still time, before we boil? Can’t we all get back to more civil engagement with each other?

Colossians 3:12-15 As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful.”

How often this standard is violated in me and in our fallen world. These simple commands struck deep contrition in my heart as I thought about each characteristic.

Compassion: identifying with the distress of others to relieve their discomfort. God is described as compassionate more than 50 times in the Old Testament. The Gospel writers described Jesus as having compassion 5 times. And in the magnificent portrait of the father of the prodigal son, he was filled with compassion for his son.

Kindness: choosing to be considerate, others-focused, and generous.

Humility: The opposite is pride, which destroys as it makes a person feel more entitled, thus more demanding, more insistent on control and having the last word.

Gentleness: responding so that a person feels safe with you, essential to a relational bond.

Patience: choosing to be willing to wait for gratification or vindication.

Forbearance: choosing patient self-control, restraint, and tolerance; choosing being long-bothered without showing any ill temper. In law, it is refraining from exercising a legal right.

Forgiveness: choosing to give up the delusion that you yourself have nothing to forgive.

Love: choosing to live in 1 Corinthians 13.

Peace: choosing to commit to making peace, not war. Letting Jesus referee in your heart.

They are all about the character of God. He has shown Himself to be this to each of us. We now get to choose to respond to others out of our experience of His indwelling grace.

We all make choices every day. I choose to walk the Colossians 3 way.