Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Trials, Trust, and Praise

In my quiet time, I've been studying James. It talks a lot about trials, and the results of trials. This is especially timely, given the trials that JCS has encountered this year, as well as the individuals at JCS. Since the start of the school year, JCS has dealt with not having enough teachers, and having most of the teacher get very sick and hospitalized, between Dengue, the Rat disease, and other diseases. Follow the link about Dengue sickness- it's a news article about the outbreak of Dengue throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This has been a strain on all of the teachers. For us personally, we have been dealing with the (wonderful) trial of a newborn baby, going many days without running water (which is really gross when having to change diapers), and discovering piles of bat poop falling into our bedroom (it's a good thing we moved our bed before the baby came, or it would be on our heads!). And Daniel has at times been overwhelmed with the combination of teaching, grad school, and being a husband and father.
So, that said, it has been good to be reading James.
James opens the his letter, after a greeting, saying, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials..."
Wait a minute! I'm supposed to take joy in bat poop, changing diapers and not being able to wash my hands, and struggling with anxiety that my precious baby or husband may get sick?
But he goes on to say, "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
And then James goes on to describe different ways we can react in times of trial. We can let the trials tempt us to despair. If we fall into that temptation, we can become bitter, impatient, fearful, angry, and even turn our anger on others. This is definitely the easier route to follow. How many times when we've lost water for days have I said to Daniel, "I can't live like this!" And I've felt like throwing in the towel. The first time we had poop come into our bedroom (last week), I feel like I dealt with it patiently; Daniel and I took care of it right away (well, him mostly, I watched and tried to be helpful as he crawled along the beams near the ceiling). Then he swept and mopped while I nursed Jer. The next day we did 3 loads of laundry to wash his clothes, the bed sheets, and anything else that might have had bat poop on it. However, when we discovered piles of poop in our room again yesterday, I despaired. My first thought was, "I can't deal with this!" I felt overwhelmed. I let the trial bring me to despair.
The other route we can take is to let the trial be a "testing" that develops perseverance, patience, and maturity of faith. Eventually, this will lead to fruit and righteous works. When I choose to react in this way, (which is not as often as I would like!) my faith and trust in the Lord grows as I see Him prove faithful (even if things are still hard). And by choosing to trust in Him, I am then able to bless others, instead of growing angry and affecting others negatively. And, of course, we can only do this through His strength.
And, Paul says in Philippians 4 , "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
So, instead of focusing on the trials and becoming anxious, I should be focusing on the goodness of God and the blessings he pours out on us!
And so, here are just a few things I'm thankful for (thanks Jes, for sharing yours)

-Knowing that God will continue to provide for us, and being able to look back and see all the times that He has!
-A Wonderful Husband who is such an encouragement!
-A healthy baby boy, in spite of being born in a foreign country, and having a c-setion
-Getting to have both our sets of parents visit us after the birth of Jer.
-A community here of people who give us support and love
-An inverter for when the power goes out, internet, and a pump, for when there is city water
-The gift of music- being able to listen to praise songs and sing to God, it's such a joy (and who cares how I sound!)

I could go on, but I'm going to finish with the words of a Hymn written by a man who has experienced more trial than I have in my life. Oh, that I might have this kind of faith!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.




Shirley said...

Thank you so much for commenting on my Produce, E. Coli, Bacteria, and You post. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Your new lifestyle must be really challenging, but the way you are dealing with all of the hardships is an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your life!

Jes said...

You amaze me!! Keep praising!!! Being thankful is not as easily done as it is said. The youth pastor has just started a series on James so I found it wonderfully amusing that you wrote on James too!
The youth pastor was saying how testing our faith developes perseverance, just like when you take a test in school it proves how much you know and if you pass you move on to the next grade. When you pass the test of faith you move on to the next level! Thinking of it that way helps me find joy in trials.
Thanks for sharing everything

Beth @ The Natural Mommy said...

You really inspire me, Tree!

Oh, I pray your water remains on consistently!