Blessings in Disguise

Psalm 65:11

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

At first glance these verses might seem kinda blah. But when you read it again, you see that David, the author, is expressing thankfulness to God, even when times are tough.

God provides abundantly, even when we are in the path of difficulty or challenge. Nature was a way that God showed his blessings and generosity to the people at that time. They were thankful for the bountiful harvest, but noted that even the rough and hard paths are overflowing with abundance as well.

You can interpret this several ways; maybe David meant that difficult people and his friends were hardened. They had a rough exterior or maybe difficult to deal with. And he could have meant that even THEY were blessed with God’s generosity and love.

Or maybe he meant difficult encounters or decisions he had to make had God’s blessing. That even when he was faced with adversity, he felt blessed by God with abundant knowledge and faith that he was making the right decision.

I think it means for us today, that we recognize the GOOD that God does when things are going our way, when our harvest is plentiful. But we also need to see God in the not so good situations. God is with us even when we are walking down a difficult path. He’s there when we are faced with a crisis or a devastating loss. He is still there providing us with abundant love and faith.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Have you recently overcome a difficult situation? Looking back on it, do you see where God was present and blessing you? It’s easy to see God in the good, but remember that He is with us even when our path is difficult. Seek His guidance in those times even more than the good times. It’s then that we can rely on His abundant love and have faith that He is providing us with help and comfort that we need.

Perseverance in times of Struggle

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Do you know those people who always seem to have a smile on their face? They seem to have a cheerful outlook on life, even as things around them might be falling apart. I often wonder how those people live their life like that! I admire them in one way. But on another hand I think, “Are they in denial about what’s going on?”

Then I read this verse from James and think, No, these people just have a great amount of faith. They know that life isn’t supposed to be easy. It can be unfair. You can be dealt a “bad hand.” But guess what? You get through it. With faith, with a good attitude, with support from others to keep you going, you get through your trials.

Testing our faith develops perseverance, according to James. I hear the word perseverance and I always picture a soldier going through bootcamp. Or a runner racing to the end of the finish line. I suppose I picture something physical like this instead of mental. But we know most of our “trials” in life are mentally and spiritually demanding, too. Like when we lose a loved one. Or lose a job. Or having difficulty in a relationship.

All these trials will test our faith. How will we approach this test? With a joyful attitude like our friends in Christ? Or with a poor and “life is unfair!” attitude?

When I hear the word perseverance, I also think of another scripture verse that I love.

Romans 5:3-5 (New International Version Translation)

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

So we exult or rejoice in our sufferings! Those are our smiley joyful cheerful friends. And that has to be us too. Why? Because when we get through this trial, this challenge, this difficulty that we are facing, we produce perseverance, and character and from all of that comes what? Hope. Love that little 4 letter word, don’t you?

Fit in your Faith Today: What’s the latest trial you are facing and how is it testing your faith? What are you doing to persevere through? Does it help to know that after all is said and done, you will develop your faith even deeper? Put on a cheerful face as you tackle your latest challenge, knowing the finish line is someone who is, as James says, “complete and not lacking anything.”