I love meeting with my Life Group. I have a group of people to study the Bible with – and I always get more insights when I listen to others. This week we studied James 1:1-18 – for almost an hour. These verses talk about considering it “joy” when we are tested, so that God can grow our character and give us endurance. The passage goes on to share different situations that we face as humans – financial hardships, testing, tempting, and being judged by others. Through it all God does not change, His character is good, and He is growing our character to be more like Him.
What I loved most about our Bible study time was hearing all of the different situations people had gone through. People in my group had gone through a lot and still held on to the goodness and love of God. You see, I have known a lot of people who have been so hurt by life that they have given up on God. Some don’t even believe in God anymore: they are mad at God so they don’t believe in Him. Call it lashing out at the Father, if you will. Pain is part of our lives, mostly from our own bad choices or the selfish choices of others. It is easy to question God when we are hurting. We are hurt and we need healing.
The hard thing – and this is what came out as we studied James 1 – is that God’s healing doesn’t come (mainly) from coddling us. In our culture we give people lots of kindness but no solutions. We offer support but no change. God doesn’t coddle us; He challenges us. (OK, He sometimes coddles us: see Psalm 61:4.) He is willing for us to go through hard times to grow our character. Sometimes that pain is so great that I am not sure if it is worth it. But last night I got to hear story after story of all that my Life Group members had gone through, and how it had grown their faith and JOY. I became more and more convinced that God knows what He is doing (imagine that), even in allowing us to hurt.
Yes, we need kindness. Kindness is great! But we need more than kindness – we need grit. If I had a personal trainer at the gym (which I don’t but probably could use!), I wouldn’t want them to coddle me; I would want them to push me – that is the only way I would get stronger. God is growing perseverance and grit inside of us.
Think of the hard things you are going through now, and see how God is growing you stronger, growing your character to be more like Jesus.