Considering It Pure Joy

Dear Jack-

I’m not apt to complain, at least not near as much as I used to.  I have a really blessed life, and I’m generally exceedingly grateful for it.  And then, every once in awhile, I have a day like Sunday where so many things go “wrong” I lose it and start complaining.

The day started out fine, watching my little sister Jenna run her first marathon, and even riding on a bicycle with her the last 8 or so miles.  And then I split my shin open with new pedals.  Not a big deal.  Then I get home – Lydia and I just weren’t on the same page.  A little frustration.  Then I go outside and see that my car that’s for sale got hit, pretty badly, while parked on the street.  Can’t open my driver’s door.  Used some choice language.  Have to crawl through the passenger’s door, and in doing so, rip open my shin’s newly formed scab.  Blood on the seat.  Getting frustrated.  Go to our flag football game, we end up losing by 8 points to a team we probably should have beat.  Sometime during the game I either jammed or broke my ring finger on my left hand.  Wedding band is now digging into my hand because of the swelling.  And then, for no apparent additional reason, I melted internally and just started complaining.  Fast forward a day.

Perspective.  I think that’s what James had partially in mind when he said “consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  Yeah, they eventually produce steadfastness and then perfection and completeness.  I know that.  But now I’m realizing the perspective part of it.  It’s like God is telling me, “Jeremy, take a step back.  Relax.  Just be what I’m calling you to be,” and I see then the opportunities.  Such as splitting my shin open – people saw it, I reacted fine.  Didn’t flip out like I might have used to.  Then with Lydia – I got a little frustrated.  I had an opportunity to lay down my selfishness and didn’t.  Then with the car.  Neighbors probably saw me react – could have missed a great opportunity to show grace and patience in the midst of perceived injustice.  Then with the finger, I could simply just not complain about it to my teammates.

Basically, I think I’m coming to understand that God places these happenings, these “injustices” and “trials” in our lives to see how legit we are.  And not only this, but to give us the opportunity to love in the face of adversary, which is the purest type of love.  I’m not sure if I always pass these tests, but at least I’m able to see them for what they are, and not just succumb each time to complaining on how this world has conspired against me.  In fact, when you think about, the world has always been conspiring opportunities for God to be glorified – and I just need to find my role in that.  Till next time, Jack.

Sincerely,
J.

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