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How we can grow through suffering

February 10, 2022

Daily Scripture

James 1:2-5; Romans 5:1-5

James 1:2-5

2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. 5 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

Romans 5:1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope. 5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Some challenges are minor; others test every fiber of our being. Jesus’ brother James urged that believers meet life’s tests as “occasions for joy.” The apostle Paul sketched the growth process through which every Christ-follower can develop a character that meets challenges, not with despair, but with hopeful awareness of the good they might lead to. God, both apostles said, can give us the wisdom to bring endurance and hope out of our hardest experiences.

  • James did not write through naïve, rose-colored glasses. He knew human nature is not at all inclined to view tests as “occasions for joy.” That’s why in verse 5 he wrote that God will freely give wisdom to anyone who asks. In what ways does God’s ability to “grow you” through life’s challenges help you view hard times differently? When has God given you wisdom to face a tough challenge?
  • When, if ever, has the Romans 5 cycle of trouble, endurance, character, and hope brought you a sense of God’s love being “poured out” in your heart? Paul also wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). How close to “overflowing” is your inner supply of hope today for good situations, hard ones or a mix? How can you open your heart to let God fill you to overflowing with hope?

Lord God, I find it hard to see even a gray, wintry day or a full parking lot as an occasion for joy. Keep teaching me to see life your way, to value the flexibility and trust you can use tough times to grow in me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey works with the Mission Ministries team and her Overland Park location colleagues to equip people to serve in Kansas City (and beyond!) through training and hands-on experiences. She also works closely with Hunger Ministry volunteers to help #FeedKC.

When she’s not juggling serve events, Lindsey enjoys creating music, puppets and sketch comedy with her husband Gary. Her favorite Bible story comes from John 21, because she will never turn down a brunch invite…especially not from Jesus.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.
I think it’s the weight of the winter world, rolling around like a pebble under the mattress.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that there is joy in the journey.
But last Wednesday morning, there was mostly just snow and ice on my journey.
Quiet, and vaguely treacherous.
I dressed in half the laundry pile, trying to insulate myself from the winter of my discontent.
“Here goes nothing,” I muttered to my coffee cup as my little car slid all the way to its destination.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.
I think it’s the awareness of my growing personal edges, poking me and demanding attention.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that I am in pretty good shape.
But last Wednesday morning, I learned just how cozy COVID has made me.
Out of practice, and vaguely overwhelmed.
I packed and lifted box after heavy box of non-perishables at the OP Food Pantry, filling them to the brim with generosity.
“May you be blessed,” I muttered to a box of mac ‘n cheese, soon to be on its way to a hungry belly.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.
I think it’s the potential for transformation, appearing at the edges of my peripheral vision.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that I knew for certain that people would show up to volunteer.
But last Wednesday morning, I had little hope that would be the case.
Doubtful, and vaguely pessimistic.
I ate my words as eager hands arrived with laughter, strength, and snow shovels to spare.
“Thank you! Thank you!” I said repeatedly, as we worked side by side.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately.
I think it’s all that I’ve been taking for granted, twisted around my limbs.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that hope is a muscle that needs a workout.
And last Wednesday morning, I got in a good one.
Body and mind, thanks to the Spirit.
I thought it would be a day to be endured but instead, it was a day to be transformed.
“Here I am” became our ready response, as we answered the call to serve.

I slept pretty well that night.
I think it was a heart full of joy and peace, hopeful soreness well-earned.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.