Posted by: Pastor J Jacobs on Sun, Jan 7, 2018
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that 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 perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
It was his birthday.
We had a flight to catch.
Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.
We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with “goo-goo” eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.
We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.
We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.
We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.
Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.
Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.
Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.
Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.
The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.
It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.
Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.
And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.
I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.
Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.
I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.
But watching my husband reminded me of something.
I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as “an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.
Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.
However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.
We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.
Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.
We get to choose.
So my friend, choose joy!
Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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