We did it — we have finally reached the last month of the year.
We are in the midst of advent season, a time of great anticipation and hope. However, during this celebratory time of year, many of us feel like we have little to anticipate and are quite hopeless. Some feel that the trials and issues of 2014 have been too much to bear, and instead of rejoicing, they are silently trudging through this last month, bombarded with difficulties.
For those who have felt or are feeling a bit overwhelmed, I have a bit of encouragement — whatever difficulties you may be facing in this season, there still is hope.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (MSG). This year, with all of its difficulties, has been an awesome opportunity to grow in godliness. Simply put, this year has been a gift. Each triumph, failure, promotion, disappointment and happy and sad moment has been a chance for your faith to shine.
Rarely do we think of our difficulties as presents. In the midst of difficulties, it is sometimes easy to become bitter, angry or sorrowful. Actually, in times of difficulty, our first reaction usually is not thankfulness.
However, the Scripture reminds us that difficult processes are keys to our spiritual maturity. Difficult moments challenge our faith and strengthen our relationship with Christ. They allow us to remember the perfect gift that was sent to us over 2,000 years ago — our Emmanuel, Jesus Christ. It is in this perfect gift that we can understand the context of James 1. Christ allows us to count our tests, challenges and difficulties as gifts because we never walk through them alone. Difficulties cause us to hold tighter to our perfect gift and cling more closely to Him. Therefore, no matter the season or the circumstances, we may find joy in knowing that all hope is not lost.
As we close out this year, let us remain thankful for Christ. No matter what you’ve had to face this year, find joy in this season of anticipation and hope. Christ promised us that if we accept Him, the gifts he has for us are endless.
Rejoice — and again I say, rejoice!
Morris is a member of the United Ministerial Alliance of Liberty County.