I have had one crazy but fun weekend. It was spent with some amazing people and an awesome God. I attended two Christian events and I felt encouraged after both of them.
I have often found that when I attend Christian events I have so much on my mind; things that are affecting me and I find that my thoughts are focused on things that have happened recently. Sunday evening was no different. I had been feeling unwell for a few days and was in two minds about whether to go. But in the end I decided to go and I am glad I did. It gave me an opportunity to sit with God, talk to him and actually take some time to listen. Home life is busy and the house is constantly filled with noise and so I get easily distracted when I am at home. At the event, whilst the band where playing, I sat down and simply told God that I needed Him and that I was really struggling with things that had happened recently. He placed two verses in my head so I switched on my Kindle and flicked through until I found them; James 1 verses 12 – 14. This is what I read:
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Although they seem straightforward, I had to read them a number of times before I really understood why God had placed them on my heart. These verses were an encouragement to me as I have often, probably like many others, felt extremely weak when faced with difficult times. I allowed myself to believe something I previously found difficult to accept; that every single Christian is tempted by something, even those who have been walking with God for twenty or thirty years. We all have our problems, those little things we find difficult to say no to. It might be that drink, on a night out, that you know will take you from tipsy to drunk. It might be that piece of gossip you hear, that you cannot resist passing on to your friends.
After reading the verses in James I realised that trials are there to enable us to grow in our faith. As Christians, we are given trials so we can turn to God and ask Him for help. We are given difficult times so we can depend on Him. We are given problems so that we can show that we trust Him to do what is right, to do what is best for us. We are given illnesses so that we can turn to God who can heal us. ‘He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases’ (Psalm 103 verse 3). We are given weaknesses so we can go to God for His strength to overcome them. ‘I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4 verse 13). We are given addictions so we can turn to God who is able release us from those chains. ‘He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins’ (Ephesians 1 verse 7). We are rejected and shown false love so that we can turn to God and find perfect love and never-ending compassion, despite the mistakes that we make. ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13 verse 5). Ultimately we are given these tests so we can show whether we actually believe that God is who He says He is. If we believe that He is then we can ask Him for freedom, healing, and forgiveness and we have the guarantee that He will freely give them to us because of the unconditional love He has for us.