Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 (The Message)
Have you ever received a gift and your immediate response was, "Oh, you really shouldn't have," which is translated, "This is the ugliest thing I ever saw, what am I going to do with it?" Or it didn't really fall into the "gift" category.
For example, on my 25th birthday I had the unsettling realization that birthdays aren't as fun as they use to be. When you are a kid, birthdays are super with parties, balloons, and lots of great presents.
What did I get for my 25th birthday? A weed eater. Oh, and that is not all. An extension cord to go with it!
A weed eater for most girls goes into the category of "Oh, you really shouldn't have."
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
When I read the verse above, I want to say, "Oh, you really shouldn't have," in response to that "gift".
(Now, just a caveat that The Message bible isn't the most accurate translation. That being said, the original Greek word in the text above for "gift" really means "joy." But, since a gift usually brings joy, I will go ahead with my illustration.)
When tests and challenges come my way, I have to admit that my first response isn't gratitude, it isn't joy, and I don't think of it as a "gift". However, that is what the Lord said we should do.
Do you know what I consider to be the ultimate gift? A diamond. Many women would agree. We long for a man to give us one as a symbol of his everlasting love for us.
Diamonds are beautiful, transparent, radiant, precious, valuable.
Do you know how Diamonds are created? You probably do. They are formed by years of pressure and heat. Diamonds are also formed 100 miles below the surface of the earth. We cannot see them on the surface until they are brought up by more heat during a volcanic eruption. When they do surface, they are still not in radiant form. They must be polished, cut, prepared to be the valuable jewel God created them to be.
Inside each of us, is a diamond. We have Jesus living in us. He is radiant. Beautiful. Inside of us, we also have impurities from a world fallen in sin. God wants to uncover the impurities. He wants to remove all the dirt, so that Jesus in us is what is on the surface for people to see. Pressures in life, like volcanic eruptions, reveal a whole lot of ugly before the beauty that is underneath is found and polished.
Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. Pressure reveals the impurities in us, it causes the filth of our heart to rise to the surface so we can face and deal with them. Then, God can extract the contamination.
Under all that dirt, there is a diamond waiting to be revealed. God needs to remove all the dirt to uncover what is already inside us.
So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
My flesh wants to run when it is uncomfortable and feels pressure. However, remember the Lord said it was "a gift", "count it all joy". This week I felt pressure as my schedule seemed too full for comfort. Our flesh likes comfort. I like comfort.
I originally wrote this on Monday, it was nearly done and after clicking "undo" one too many times, it disappeared! Like that, all I had written was gone. Ughh! Another test. Seriously, no big deal. I was able to laugh about it. : )
This verse helped me this week to remember the challenges I face will help me mature. To think of my tests and challenges as a gift, helped cue me to react properly. Maturity, like a piece of coal becoming a diamond, takes pressure. It won't just happen. I want the end result of being mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
In James 1: 12, it goes on to say:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
The rewards are priceless when we persevere under tests and challenges with a right heart attitude. We become mature, well-developed, not lacking in anything, and God says He rewards us with life and more life!
There is a diamond inside of you just waiting to be discovered! Next time we are faced with a challenge, even if we may not think of it as falling in the "gift" category, remember the outcome. The extraction of impurities will result in more of Jesus rising to the surface in us for the world to see.
Your Heavenly Father has given you a "Diamond" as a symbol of His everlasting love. Jesus is our Diamond and He is in us. You are beautiful, priceless, precious, valuable, radiant.