SHINE: Give By the Spirit — Count it All Joy!

SHINE! … By the Spirit™ with Tonya M. Evans

Count it All Joy!: The Blessing in the Lesson

© 2011 Tonya M. Evans

August 24, 2011

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. “ ~ James 1: 2-4 [NKJV]

"Lemons in a Bowl"

Recently I shared with someone the difficulties I was having over a really tough personal issue.  With the best of intentions and a spirit of encouragement she told me that “trouble don’t last always.” At that moment, honestly the words sounded to me about ten times worse than a screeching cat in the middle of the night. Not because the words aren’t true – intellectually and spiritually I know they are. But for some reason the words rang a bit hollow.

After meditating on the experience and my reaction to it, I realized why. Although difficult times don’t last they are a certain experience in this life. In fact, we can add it to the list of things promised – right after death and taxes! But in my state of dis-ease I was focused solely on wishing things were different so that I could have avoided a difficult time altogether.

But this message is not meant to depress you (or me, because Lord knows I need an encouraging word)! It’s actually a praise report. Breaking news: This just in …

suffering is a natural and unavoidable experience on this earth!

That means there’s no need to worry whether you’ll encounter difficulties because you will. And I will. And everyone you know will. Every established spiritual text and practice illuminates this reality as well. That simple realization – if you accept rather than fight it – can actually take the pressure off. You can use the energy you’d spend worrying or being fearful to instead edify and fortify yourself spiritually, physically and emotionally so that your ability to thrive in the midst is strengthened for the next trial.

Suffering over any particular experience usually has a definite beginning, middle and end (although the timing of this is not always apparent!). Some suffering is a short-term experience and some takes much longer to overcome – because of the level of investment (time, money, emotions, etc.) or the severity of the impact on your life (death of a loved one, job loss, breakups, disasters etc.). But the truth of the matter is suffering is just part of life. We are either “going through”, as they say, just coming out of something … or about to go in. And sometimes difficult periods overlap. That’s when we can really feel the weight of suffering.

Some suffering is external to us; things we neither created consciously and over which we have little if any control. And then there’s the suffering we do cause in our own lives. It occurs when we don’t accept what is, wish some “thing” or some “one” would be different, when we jump out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire because we’re impatient, or when we stay in the direct line of fire because we’re complacent, paralyzed with fear or we’ve checked out of our own lives. And sometimes there’s a serious medical reason that affects our ability to think, reason and cope and professional help is needed (most notably, periods of acute, cyclical or chronic depression and other mental health concerns). [Click here for the signs & symptoms of depression]

But the bottom line is real spiritual maturity often can only come from learning to endure in the midst of tests, trials and tribulations. Sometimes the only way Spirit can get our attention to become more patient, wise, empathetic, loving, grateful and mature is to walk with us through “the fire”. Only when we realize it’s not about avoiding all suffering but about our response to difficulties can we truly SHINE, like on purpose! In those difficult moments we can either respond from a place of fear or love and that decision is best made when your patience, wisdom and understanding is perfected in God.

So regardless what may come in my life I will give thanks in all circumstances and “… count it all joy….” I encourage you to GIVE yourself a loving break and do the same!

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