Read: James 1:1-4
In high school, loneliness crippled my spirit. Growing up I constantly struggled to form close friendships. I had friends, but always felt like an outsider. The pattern continued through elementary, middle, and high school. Over and over again, the friends I made would use, manipulate, and hurt me. I cried to God almost every night asking for quality friends who I could build deep, real relationships with, but things just got worse.
My junior year of high school, my friends from church either abandoned, ignored, or slighted me. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. I was hurt. My loneliness was at its max. I was hurt by these people and by God. How could He have done this to me? I was mad. I thought I had done everything right. I read my Bible, went to church four times a week, and prayed often, yet I felt as though God had abandoned me and I was all alone. The reality though is that I was not.
James 1:2 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James doesn’t say “if” we go through trials, but “when”. Trials are bound to happen in our lives. We can expect them without letting them crush our spirit. God never promised us a pain-free life, but that He will be with us through our suffering. Life happens. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world, yet God is with us. He is fighting for us, carrying us, comforting us, rejuvenating us, and stengthening us. In this we should rejoice.
James says that we should count it as a joy to rejoice through suffering. He goes on to explain why joy should be our reaction. In v. 3-4 James writes, “…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” “Steadfastness” is another word for endurance. It means one does not waiver, but stands firm. Trials, the testing of our faith, actually grows our relationship God and builds our character. We can only see the depth of our character when it is tested under pressure. So why is this reason to rejoice? Because we are growing, learning, and maturing!
I felt so alone in high school, yet God was with me. He was with me as I grew where I felt left out, when friends were cruel, and even when I had unrighteous anger towards Him. To add to this, He is still with me now. I had to be patient while waiting for His timing. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Through that lonely period, God helped me become the person I am today. I grew so much as I leaned on God. I learned that I couldn’t be angry at Him and that He has a reason for everything. Even if God didn’t give me a strong community of friends, He is still good. In spite of this hard lesson, God provided a community that I appreciate and love so much more.
Now as I look back, I see how God answered my prayer abundantly. I, the little girl who cried, begging God for a community of true friends, am now surrounded by incredible people.
Think of an area of your life where you want to see change. It could be a trial you are going through, a request for God, a sin you want to flee from your life, or something else like that. Write it down where you will see it and take time to pray for it everyday. Have patience.