Monday, March 21, 2011

Where to look in tough times?

I have been going through some very tough times in my life in the past year or so.  I've been struggling to find permanent employment and dealing with the financial hardships that go along with irregular income.  It has been a trying time.  I have often just barely been able to pay my bills each month.  This near constant anxiety and stress has taken it's toll on me.  However, one part of my life has been better than ever before, and that continues to keep me going.  That would be my spiritual life.

When things get really tough I try to look to the Bible for support and comfort.  I already know that I'm different from many others, and I'm sure my favorite readings for these difficult times are no different.  While there are many verses that can be found in different places throughout the Bible, I have found the Epistle of James to be one place where I have found messages that are useful in tough times densely packed.

James (most likely the brother of Jesus) starts off this letter by getting right to the point, "2 Count it all joy, my brothers,t when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4)  All of my self-doubt and low feelings are tests of my faith since we are told that God will provide for our needs in many places in the Gospels.  Here James frames these tests as trials by which we learn to strengthen our faith.  You may be thinking, "Count it all joy? Are you kidding?" Well, it is a joy (not happiness) to know that the trials we go through are only helping to increase our strength and faith for further use by God.  This helps me to look for the joy in the pain of circumstances.

Just a few verses later we read, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."(James 1:12) Not only can we look at the temporal profit we can receive from our trials, we can also look forward to eternal reward if we can remain steadfast.  That's a very comforting thought and one which I find uplifting as well.

He also warns us of what to be aware of, "19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."( James 1:19-20)  It is easy when under pressure to speak out of frustration and to act out of that frustration or even anger.  This advice is useful to all people at all times, listen more than we speak.

James is also very clear about how we are to live, " You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)  This unambiguous admonition, to me, helps to put things in perspective.  It helps me to see that I need to be faithful to God's will and not worry about what the world has to say about it.  Helps me keep the ever present marketing of things at arms length.  Keeps my eyes up, thoughts on the Kingdom, and my spirit willing to do what needs to be done. 


  1. Thank you for this reminder. Your testimony as you struggle through these trials, is one of a man of God.

  2. Thank you for your comment, I'm humbled by it.

  3. Stop by and share your blog, we also have information and resources that can help you.

  4. Everyone have had tough times in their lives. What is important in these situations is not to lose faith and strive to change the things for better.