"Is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don't try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete." James 1:2-4 (TLB)
What can help us to be happy in spite of life's difficulties and temptations?
Last summer--right after she came home from experiencing the spiritual high of church camp--Denise experienced the sudden loss of her forty-seven-year-old brother, Davie. "He was an alcoholic," she says. "I prayed and prayed for years and never saw him get saved. "He had been drinking and climbed onto a large lawn mower and started to drive. It soon tipped over into a fifteen-foot ditch and crushed him."
Denise was brokenhearted over the fact that she didn't know where her brother would spend eternity. "I hoped and hoped that he had prayed before he died. I know if he had simply called on the name of Jesus, that Jesus would have saved his soul. But I just didn't know."
Denise knelt at the place where Davie died, and she cried out to God. "I didn't know how I'd continue to live with the loss of my brother and with not knowing where he was spending eternity," she says.
While praying, Denise heard God's voice. "Do you trust Me, Denise? Do you love Me?"
"I answered, 'Yes, Lord. I love You with all my heart. And I do trust You."
"I'm the only One who knows where your brother is. Leave it with Me. Trust Me."
Denise was able to leave the issue with God right there. "He gave me His indescribable peace," she says, "and He restored my confidence in Him. I've been at peace over my brother ever since that moment. And I have more confidence in God today than I ever have before. I know my Redeemer lives, and He is trustworthy!"
During the darkest moments in our lives, if we have a relationship with Christ, we can still cling to the fact that we have heaven waiting for us! "There's a lot I don't understand," Denise says. "But there's one thing I know for sure. The same Jesus who saved me and forgave my sins when I was eight years old, and the same Jesus who has set me apart for His glory, is the same Jesus who has never left me and who has always loved me.
"He has been intimately near to me through every painful moment of the unexpected. He is speaking, teaching, and patiently helping me laugh and love again."
Lord, I want a strong relationship with You. Help me to endure the difficult times. Fill me with peace when life is hard. Amen.