James 1: 2-5 in the New Living Translation says, " Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking."
Did you notice James doesn't say IF its rough, he says WHEN its rough?
He assumes we will have trials, and it is possible to BENEFIT from them!
We need to make sure that we turn our hardships into times of learning and growth! Know that it is good for you and don't resent it, or resent God.
We can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its very easy to say we are a good parent, but do we act patience and loving even when times are stressful and the kids have pushed you to the brink? Or do we snap and yell? I know I personally have to consciously work on this area of my life ALL the time. I want to be the best mom possible. I want my kids to have positive wonderful memories of growing up. I don't want them (or their friends) to think of me and think of that non-happy, yelling lady. But, I have to make a huge effort to control my emotions and remain calm when their behavior and actions are not pleasing me. Its an everyday focus. Until we master something, it has to be our focus everyday. If you are struggling in an area, be sure to focus on overcoming it everyday, and when those situations arise that are going to test you, consciously make an effort to do the right thing. To react in such a way that would please God.
This character test can also be applied to tithing. Like I said earlier, we can't really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.
Its easy to give when we have much. It takes more character and faith to freely give when we have not so much. (Remember the widow's mite? She gave a teeny, tiny bit, but it was SHE who gained Jesus' positive attention by her faithfulness and giving. Not the wealthy folks who had been giving out of their abundance. She was giving all she had, they were just giving their "extra". Her gift stretched her, and was therefore in faith. Their gifts were not stretching them at all, and therefore they were not exercising any sort of faith.
Charities are suffering everywhere in the U.S. right now because of the hardships people are experiencing in our society.
But growth will come to those who persevere and don't let the world's fears keep them from doing God's works and obeying His Word.
Instead of whining and complaining about our troubles we should see them as opportunities for growth. I always look back on hard times and realize how important that time/experience was to me in making me who I am today. During the hard time, I didn't always see the benefit of it, but looking back I don't wish it didn't happen, because it helped to mold and sculpt me into what I am now. It has helped me to grow. If we can look at a trying time WHILE we are in it and know it is helping us and molding us into more of God's image, I think it makes it easier to get through that trying time.
What I am saying is this, if you can know DURING the hardship that it will HELP YOU, it will be easier to walk through the hardship and easier to maintain your right-relationship with God through it too! It will always make you grow in your walk with God. You will learn and be better for it. God is always with you. Even in rough patches.
Don't be discouraged and give up.
Don't be discouraged and quit doing what is right in His sight.
During this economic downturn it is easy WITHOUT GOD to lose hope.
The difference is... WE HAVE GOD!
Therefore, we have hope!
Keep your faith strong.
Thank God for being with you even in hard times.
Just like James said in 1:5, Ask Him to help you solve your problems and give you the strength to endure them. And Make sure when you ask Him for direction and wisdom that you are ready to listen to HIM (James 1:6).
I pray that if you are going through a hardship, that is will pass quickly and that you will be stronger because of it. I also pray for God to use this season to help us to grow and to come to know Him more! And just as importantly, that we are a Godly example during our hardship, so that OTHERS will come to know Jesus, because of the light He has shown through us during difficult times!