“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” James 1:2
As we ease into Holiday planning, are you counting it PURE joy?
It is the time of the year when families make extra effort to gather together. Most of the time it is out of desire, but it can be an obligation as well. This is also the time of year that all of our different personalities can ‘rub’ on each other. Difficult relationships might be highlighted or tested, and herein lies the reason why many folks dread the holidays all together. So how can we “consider it pure joy” as Paul exhorts us and be grateful in the midst of difficult relationships?
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We can give thanks and count the difficult relationships pure joy because:
1. It Develops Our Perseverance... It gives us an opportunity to lean on God for the patience and compassion we need to deal with the person. It gives us opportunity to lean on His strength and to usher in something new into the relationship. We get to practice His ways no matter how the other person acts, which grows us spiritually.
2. It Matures Our Faith... The perseverance we need to maintain and navigate difficult relationships in our life compels us to seek God in a deeper way. If we desire to handle things in a Godly manner we must seek His heart for the person involved; rely on His wisdom and use His power to follow through.
3. It Allows Us to Know Ourselves Better... A powerful concept in psychology is that the person we tend to have difficulties with is often a reflected image of ourselves. Often this person is reflecting back to us something about ourselves and we don’t even know it! Stop and ask the Lord, “Is there anything in my heart that is similar to this person or situation?”
4. It Allows Us To Love Like Christ... Boy, if Jesus only choose to love us when we ‘acted right’, ‘didn’t hurt His feelings’, or ‘treated Him like He deserves’ we would ALL be in serious trouble. He loves us unconditionally and He directs us to do the same. In difficult relationships, the ONLY way we can do this is to allow His love to flow through us.
5. It Allows Us To Live In The Freedom Of Forgiveness... Forgiveness cost God a lot…His Son on the Cross. When we forgive as God directs us, then we stay out of bondage. In a difficult relationship we GET to practice forgiveness and experience the freedom and peace it brings. We never really appreciate something unless it costs!
6. We Get To Experience The Joy Of Dying To Self... HUH? Joy? Yes, joy. When we deny what our flesh desires to do or say in the difficulties then we become more alive in Him. And then we exude more of God into the situation. We have the power to speak life or death into these difficult situations. Choose life. Do it God’s way, not your own!
Think about how different these relationships might be if you practice God’s directions in the tough stuff? Family gatherings could be peaceful and more loving. And it’s spiritual exercise! You can become healthier and lead other’s into the same!
Now it’s time I practice what I preach. Thanks for letting me share. It helps me stay accountable too!
What are ways you “count it pure joy” and “give thanks in all things” regarding difficult relationships? Share and let’s spur each other on to good deeds…