My life group at church is reading brave: honest questions women ask by Angela Thomas. It would seem the six chapters could be covered in six sessions. My group meets bi-weekly, and we only make it through half a twenty plus page chapter in a two hour session. The six topics cover:
1. I am worn out
2. I am suffering a thorn
3. I am undisciplined
4. I am trembling inside
5. I am invisible
6. I am broken
Invariably, I begin each chapter thinking, this does not apply to me, but then . . . YES! It does apply to me. I feel like I generally have myself under control with few issues. I lived a charmed life until my daughter died seven years ago. I used to thank God for my easy life. I had few problems, with none of them major.
Now, I feel something like Job. First, he lost all his children and animals. Next, he lost his health and had boils. But he never lost his spouse. I lost one child, followed by my spouse three years later. And two years after that, I lost my dog. Now I am waiting for shingles to strike me!
I had an odd reaction to my losses. When my daughter became ill and died, I grieved profusely, yet I did not ask God, “Why?” Knowing God is sovereign, wanting only the best for us, I knew He had His reasons. I did not ask God, “Why?” when my husband left. Though shocked by his behavior, I realized God must have a better life for me. But, when Guinness died, I did ask God, “Why?” Losing him at only six years old did not seem fair piled on top of my other losses.
The English Standard Version of James 1:2-3 reads, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Other versions translate the object of the verb as patience, or to show your true colors, or to produce endurance. In all of these, the point remains: problems come our way to make us better people and to teach us to rely on God.
God’s intent is not to reduce us to whimpering children, but to stiffen our backbone, thus developing character which we had lacked. God uses trials, not to chase us away, but to pull us to Him. God has no greater desire than for us to depend upon Him for everything. He describes Himself as a jealous God wanting our entire attention. By leading us into deep waters, He wants believers to become totally dependent. Trials force us to seek God. And He will make us BRAVE!