My favorite verse in the Bible over the past few years has been James 1:2-4. "(2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
I have read and heard this scripture many times over the course of my life; it never really spoke to me until a few years ago when God really put me in these three verses for a season. When I say a season, I mean I have literally camped out in verse 4 for several years now.
God spoke to me and simply said, "That is your instruction when life gets hard Joe." I'm no biblical scholar to say the least, but I heard him clearly and set out to tear apart James 1: 2-4 as best as I could.
I'd like to share with you all what I uncovered in verse 4 that I pray will benefit you as much as it has me. In my opinion, what God says in Verse 4 is our instruction in hard times: "Let steadfastness have its full effect on you."
In all the years and times I have heard this scripture, I completely missed the instruction, the direction God gave us here. LET! It's a short, simple three-letter word that we look over and neglect the meaning of as we read through this scripture; at least I know I did.
It's amazing what that three-letter word does to the meaning of this verse in our everyday lives. It completely changed how I look at and address issues in my life today and also how I minister to others in hard times.
I started meditating on "Let" as if my life depended on it, praying to God, "What are you trying to show me here?"
If you miss that little three-letter word, then you're missing the entire context of this verse. And through my prayers and time stuck on the word "Let," God opened a new door in my life that has absolutely made me a stronger, wiser man of God. I found that instead of letting trials have their full effect on me I was doing one of three things.
1. Fix it
My go-to when trials arise is to try to fix, manage or control this situation. To make whatever is happening in my life disappear as quickly as possible so that I can feel comfortable again. I'm the King of trying to fix everything for everyone every day mainly so that I can feel better and be at peace. But God doesn't just want to comfort us, he also wants to confront us and we have to allow or let that take place. Do you immediately try to fix every issue that arises in your life?
2. Distract myself
When I can't fix a situation, when it's out of my control and it's bringing me any type of discomfort I start to distract myself from it. In the world we live in today it's easy to distract ourselves from the trials in our lives. We have television, cellphones, social media apps, games, hobbies, children, relationships, jobs, homes and even ministry that we can put all of our time and energy into so that we don't have to face this trial that God has orchestrated in our lives. I am an expert at distracting myself from problems; I stay on my phone or keep busy so that I don't have to deal with the problems in my life. I'm willing to bet, a lot of you do the same things. What do you use to distract yourself from the trials?
3. Avoid it
Last but not least, when I can't fix it or distract myself from the trial in my life, I do what I do best and completely shut down all the emotions that I'm feeling because of it. When nothing else works and I'm feeling uncomfortable, I can always just run from the problem by shutting down inside and avoiding any issues altogether. How many of you are good at avoiding or not dealing with your trials or problems?
I share all of this with you in hope that we can all get a better understanding of James 1:4 and that simple three-letter word "Let" and its implications in our lives.
I pray that the next time you face a trial or enter a hard season in your life you will remember the word "LET" and take a good look at how you personally try to fix, distract, or avoid the issues in your life altogether. Letting, allowing trials to have their full effect on me is still one of the hardest most unnatural things that I ever have to do.
But the word "Let" has completely changed my attitude and approach and how I deal with hard times in a way that has only made me stronger as a husband, father and leader of those God has entrusted to me. The good news is, when we let, He takes us closer to perfect and complete lacking in nothing.