Oops! Recently, you received the second of two posts my friend, Jackie Anderson, had written. The first wasn’t sent, and I apologize. Today, I am pleased to share both of Jackie’s insights with Listening on the Journey… readers. I know you’ll enjoy her perspective of how to deal with tough times she learned while meditating on a portion of Scripture from the New Testament book of James. Read more…
Jackie has been my dear friend for around 20 years. Ron and I met her and her husband, Dr. Duane Anderson, when they invited us to attend a small group held in their home. Our daughters were high school friends. As time passed, our daughters graduated from college and married. A few years later, I shared grandma joys with Jackie. Our friendship deepened, even though Jackie and Duane now spend most of their time serving as medical missionaries in Ethiopia, and we’re able to get together only a few times each year.
Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your heart and your wisdom with us today!
by Jackie Anderson, guest blogger
“Why, Lord? Why me?”
I struggled with infertility for four years. As a new Christian I also struggled with doubts about God’s love. “How can a loving God be so cruel to me? He is supposed to know what I need. Why is this happening?”
Life is hard. We all wrestle with God for understanding in trials or we end up tossed about on the waves, miserable.
I love the story of the little boy who wanted a dog. He begged God for a dog, but his grandfather told him sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want but rather wants us to have character. The little boy thought for a moment, “But I don’t want character. I want a DOG!”
I laugh at that story because it is so much like me. I want something, and it is hard to submit to the idea of a greater joy in God’s plan. One thing that has helped: I memorized and meditated on James 1:2-9.
James 1:2-4 says, Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance do its complete work so that you may be mature, lacking in nothing.
‘Consider’ is from a Greek word that means to think things through or “to make a decision about something after weighing all the facts and circumstances.”
I really like God’s heart in this word. He knows our first reactions to difficulties can be negative emotions rather than joy. Our hearts rise up with anxiety, pain, fear or anger. I shed tears so many times before submitting to God’s plan.
Even Jesus struggled in the garden before submitting to the perfect will of the Father. He submitted because he considered the joy of the future when His bride would be made blameless.
As believers, we don’t stay stuck in that mindset of fear and worry.
One day during my struggle with infertility, my 3-year-old son asked me why I was so sad since “Jesus loves you.” That simple truth helped me come to a decision that God is good and in control. I KNOW that God loves me. He proved it on the cross.
I can KNOW that this is a test of faith.
I can KNOW that God has a plan to produce maturity.
I can KNOW that this is the great joy.
My encouragement to you today is Consider: think through what you know and find God’s perspective.
GOD’S ‘SECRET’ FORMULA
by Jackie Anderson, guest blogger
My family watched the Olympics this summer and admired Michael Phelps. He overcame trials and failures. The joy of the Gold motivated him to persevere.
Then I watched Eddie the Eagle, a movie about Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. What an inspiring story to persevere!
The Israelites in the wilderness do not inspire! They saw God’s miracles over and over yet they continued to complain and lacked faith. No food? No water? God just opened up the Red Sea! But they whined to Moses and God. These trials were meant to strengthen their faith. Finally, God declared they would not enter his rest because of a lack of faith. They didn’t have the faith that stayed true.
James 1:2-4: Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance do its complete work so that you may be mature, lacking in nothing.
Knowing implies an understanding that we see our problems from God’s perspective. We know that God has a plan, and He uses trials to produce the maturity He desires.
It would be interesting to count how many times the Scriptures exhort us to “Stand Firm!” God values endurance!
“Endurance is the ability to undergo a period of stress and strain with the inner strength of Christ, emerging from it stronger than when we entered. It’s looking squarely into the face of discouraging circumstances without despair. It’s assuming that God is going to work all things for good.” Robert Morgan
Trials come to test our faith. The word testing is the idea of exercising. It is like lifting heavier and heavier weights over our heads and standing up longer and longer! Our faith can develop muscles and strength with each trial. I want to remember this so I drew a weight lifter in my journal to remind myself. It helps me to journal some of the trials and victories so that I see the ‘smaller weights’ I have handled and have hope for the heavier trials.
In Robert Morgan’s book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, he calls this God’s secret formula:
It isn’t always easy. It isn’t easy to find joy when you have lost a child to cancer or face a brain tumor or your body aches with arthritis every day. It isn’t easy, but Jesus showed the way; He stretched His arms on the cross so that we have a new source of strength. He also promises to be with us and to work all things for good! I have to really trust that and make it my self- talk during trials. I have found that the more I think on His promises and truth, the more I can rest in those arms of love.
God understands it isn’t easy to find joy.
James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, ask of God. The context is connected to the trials of verse 2. God will not punish us for struggling through trials but rather encourages us to turn to Him for the wisdom to have God’s perspective so that we stand up under trials and become the child of God that gives Him the glory. He gives us the wisdom to know what to do, think or say to ourselves or someone else who is struggling.
No one who received the Gold in the summer Olympics did so without discipline, endurance, and strength. I want to receive the heavenly Gold Crown and give God the glory!
Note: Robert Morgan’s book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, has been an inspiration and a source for many of these thoughts. I encourage all my friends to use this book.
Jackie and Duane at beautiful Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho, during their recent return to the States from Ethiopia.