Joy within Trials

James 1:2-4, 12

 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

How does one consider trials a joyous event? 

When one loses their job, or one’s business is forced to close and one faces financial ruin, or a meaningful relationship ends, are Christ-followers supposed to rejoice?

When one’s health is broken, or one is constantly being bullied into submission, or one’s life work is hanging on the balance of being destroyed by outside destructive influences, is one to accept being a victim without hope in the situation changing for the better? 

Why would a good God allow such events occur in our life? Doesn’t HE want us to live a life of comfort and ease? Why would HE want us to temporarily suffer such pain and misfortune?

I am sure we have all asked similar questions as we face the challenges of life each and every day. Yet when one better understands God’s macro purpose for yours and mine life, the quicker one accepts the moment and places trust in HIM to move you through the process for the sake of others, yourself, and HIM.

Most often our initial reaction from such a negative event may cause temporary shock. We are in shock because of the unexpected potential negative consequences on the matter. We may then become angry at God or others for making such a destructive impact with our life at this moment in time. Somewhere in the process we will also grieve of our loss. These are all natural human responses to an ugly situation. Any of these emotional events may last for a few minutes or a few years and are necessary for healing to commence.

But as Christ-followers, during the entire ordeal, our faith in God will be tested. Either we will lean on HIM throughout the entire process, or not. If we do lay our pain at HIS feet, HE will provide us with the internal strength to remain firmly trusting HIM to lead you to work out the situation for the best long-term outcome for all parties involved.

When we continue to lean on HIM, trials will strengthen our faith in HIM. We become participants in HIS handiwork. HE is molding and shaping you and me to maximize our potential as a child of HIS. You may not see it at the moment. You may still be on an emotional roller coaster, but you are also being held in HIS grip.

HIS Spirit full of love, joy, and peace becomes more active and alive within you as you lean on HIM through the ordeal. The joy James writes about is the paradox of being a Christ-follower. Even when you are suffering, HIS joy lives in you and HE cannot stop expressing who HE is even during bad times.

However, if you do not lean on HIM during your trial, then you will feel the immense pain of living life without HIM and without hope for a better future.

As Christ-followers, we know HIS macro-plan is to prepare us for eternity. HE desires us to have the divine character of Jesus Christ fully empowered within us at all times. However, the building of this character takes time to work through the fiery circumstances, plus a willing participation on our part to complete. As we endure in HIS arms, as we firmly abide in HIM, we are being perfected into HIS image. Like the athlete, short-term pain leads to long-term gain.

We may not fully recover in this life what we loss through the trial. But we know God promises us the crown of life for our faithful endurance through our journey in this world.

Yes, we will be blessed for hanging in there to the end. Meanwhile, the short-term pain hurts, the shock and grieving are emotionally draining, and the future looks temporarily hopeless. But as we face our fears, holding unto HIM one step and one day at a time, HE is with us through the entire ordeal. As we are at our weakest moment, HE becomes our strength. HE walks with us and at times may even carry us.

And yes, during our trial everything may seem a blur. But in hindsight, when you review the matter, you will see HIS hand working out circumstances, and bringing people into your world at the proper moment to launch you closer to the end of the trial and the beginning of a new adventure.      

Bottom line: Trials are God’s opportunity to shape us into HIS image and reveal HIMSELF to others. Be steadfast. Lean on HIM. Rejoice in HIS presence. HE will lead you through the ordeal.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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Undesirable Mike

Romans 7:14-20

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The Bible speaks about the old and new man which is a metaphor of the person before and after conversion. Paul writes here in Romans approximately twenty years after his surrender to Lord Jesus, the internal battle between the carnal magnet of human passion and our heavenly desires.

I personally like to identify myself before conversion as undesirable Mike. He is the one that metaphorically has died. He is the old self. Full of carnal desires, lustful eyes, and a whole lot of pride for living. Whenever he comes alive, the stench even overcomes me.

We live in a cultural that glorifies sin. Greed, pride, and self-promotion are just few of the carnal desires that are magnified as OK. Sex outside of marriage, manipulating others for personal gain, and a me first mentality are politically correct attitudes accepted by the majority of people.

The problem is not having the correct knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of sin and its solution. Many religious institutions seem to emphasize the problem and understate  the solution.

Sin is the antithesis of God’s heart. When people live within the confines of God’s heart, they flourish. When we live outside of His attitude and character, people suffer. Yes, you may find short-term pleasure at the moment, but the long-term negative impact will eventually hit you and those around you. Sin isn’t just a personal act or thought, but a community suffering another broken relationship.

The Ten Commandments outline behavior which is good for relationships between oneself and God, and oneself and neighbor. Trust, truth, and peace are byproducts of living within their boundaries. Yet the magnetic pull of Satan’s nature infiltrates our very being. We may come to know what is the best behavior in a situation, but the execution of what is good fails us. This is what Paul describes here.

The solution.

Jesus Christ open the doors for you and I to receive the Holy Spirit-God’s very own nature now lives within us. His presence and impact in our lives becomes more noticeable as we surrender ourselves to King Jesus. It is just not following his teachings, but acceptance of Him as your savior, lord, king, hero, friend, and brother. 

When you open your heart and head and soul to him, you begin a relationship that becomes the most important one in your life. You will place sin beneath your feet and God’s character becomes your banner lifted high above your head. Sin will not destroy His relationship with you, but its negative impact will rob you of a more fruitful, abundant life. Sin only blinds you from Him. He is always with you and only wants you to turn away from yourself to Him.

You discover the enemy is not primarily Satan, sin, nor the culture around you. Instead, you accept personal responsibility for your actions and realize your need to walk closer with your God. He becomes the center of your life.

Money, sex, power, and fame are small gods who will grab your attention. If the Triune God is not more important to you then them, they will destroy you. Father-Son-Spirit want to be the center of your life. When they are, and you exercise your natural God-given abilities for the service of others, you experience life the way God design humans to flourish.

Sin is living outside God’s design for you and I. When undesirable Mike appears, he is being his natural self. When God’s presence within Mike is given room to express Himself, God’s goodness arises. My wife, family, neighbors, and associates all love this Mike. But the undesirable Mike always seem to sneak into the picture for attention. The quicker I recognize him, and remove him from the action, the more blessed and happier life with myself and others become real.

Focus on the new you and let the old you die. Don’t try to improve the old you. Instead lean on Jesus to show you how you were designed by Him and then walk it out. It will take faith and trust, trial and error, and breakthrough and failure before one day you will wake up and recognize the work God is doing within you. You only wish you would have started earlier to capture the true meaning and purpose for your life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Discover God in Your Brokenness

Psalm 34:18 NASB

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


The one place many of us discover the real God comes through our brokenness. When we find ourselves at the end of our rope hanging on for dear life; when we are on the bottom of the barrel with nowhere else to go; when we just suffered a great financial or relationship loss and we don’t know what to do next; God gracefully and timely (not always my way) answers our prayer. It is from these experiences we learn ASAP – always stop and pray.

In my own walk, God became real and faith came alive during those unpleasant times of unemployment. It was in between jobs where I didn’t know how we were going to make the mortgage payment and put food on the table. It was these times when the answer from our prayer for daily bread became real. Thereafter, it became a family adventure to pray and watch how God was going to help us get out of this mess and other difficult situations.

When you read many of the classics of yesterday, you read about saints who expressed their joy of discovering more about God and His gracefulness during the difficult times of their lives. It seems most of us are too busy when times are good to see God’s presence in a situation. However, when times are bad and we have exhausted all our resources so there is nothing else we can physically turn to, God makes His appearance. (Though He is always already there).

It is typically during these broken times we discover who God is and come to appreciate knowing He truly cares for us. So, the next time you find yourself busted, broken, and beaten, stop and don’t rush through the process. Instead take the time to better develop the most important relationship you can have on planet earth. He will reveal Himself to you when you seek Him. And when we are broken, there are not too many distractions to prevent us from getting to know Him better.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Founder of
Vocational Leadership 360
Author of e-Books:

Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
Great Business Emulates a Good God
Be Radical…Follow Christ!
Simply The Messenger
Unequally Married

Encourage a Friend…Share Today’s Message!

Copyright 2013-2018 Abbaco LLC | All Rights Reserved