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“Why is this happening to me?”

We have all asked that question. But let’s replace that with this:

“What is God trying to show me?”

 James wrote:

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

Who was the “James” that penned these words? Some scholars have speculated that it may have been James, the brother of John, a son of Zebedee. Yet others think it may have been the half-brother of Jesus. 

No matter which one it is, this James experienced Jesus up close and personal…

… what He said

… how he loved

… what mattered to Him most

… the many miracles He performed

James had things he passionately wanted to share because of those experiences with Jesus. And one of those things is this: How to live a life, no matter the circumstance, with joy tucked solidly at the bottom of our hearts. And no matter the circumstance means just that. No matter what!

I have been reading “Choices, the Letter from James” written by one of my favorite Bible college professors, James Schuppe.

He writes,

"That trial in your life is something good. It's a friend in disguise. God wants us to grow up. The truth is that God has plans for us to become holy."

Wow! God has plans for me to be holy. Doesn’t that make you want to just draw nearer to His side and hear His heartbeat? 

Who can argue with that?

Ok, the process may not be fun at times, but it is so worth it…to be that close to the Father that we hear His whispers in our ear!

I truly don’t want to stay an infant all my life. We all love babies. Well, at least most of us do. But as adorable as they are in the moment, we don’t want those cutie pies to stay babies forever.

So why should I shrink away from opportunities to grow up in my own life?

Our spiritual growth spurt may come in the form of…

… a friendship gone sideways

… celebrating the holidays without a loved one, for the first time

… getting laid off

… adjusting to empty nesting

… loneliness

… leaving home to “fly” on your own

… unexpected health issues without answers

I would not willingly sign up for most of these, but they can cause me to nestle deeper in my Father’s arms as He whispers into my heart:

“Trust Me.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Stop fighting and sit still.”

“Be Still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Don’t be afraid.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Is this easy?

Is it fun?

Do I willingly sign up?


James Schuppe challenges us that our present trials may be painful, but if we “let patience have her perfect work” (Link to James 1:4), afterward these trials can yield the fruit of righteousness. 

Schuppe compares these growing pains to the growth process of the beautiful white mushrooms that some of us enjoy eating on our salads or on top of our pizza. Mushrooms do not grow in the bright sunshine. They need...


And they need dirt to grow.

"The dirt represents the difficulties, frustrations and chaos in life, things that don't look clean or holy or godly at all. But God, in the middle of the dirt wants to bring you out as something totally different, a mature, holy, faithful, joyful, fruitful adult who loves Him with all your heart. Thus the encouragement in James 1:4 is 'don't run away,’ 'don't try to get out of the difficulty'...and 'don't give up.' Perfection, maturity is the destination and perseverance is the only way to get there." (Schuppe)

James, the one who rubbed shoulders with Jesus every day for at least three years (maybe since birth), the one who took it upon himself to encourage and breathe life into the spiritual lungs of the scattered, weary, and persecuted Jews, gives us this significant takeaway:

Start counting it ALL joy! 

I need to relish my time buried deep in the dirt, knowing the darkness is what produces the fruit of joy.

Joy in my heart.

Joy to others who watch the process.

Joy to the One who gently tucked me in the spiritual soil to mature me.  

“Father, thank you for tenderly caring for the garden of my heart, knowing what is best for me, even if it means I must experience periods of darkness. Thank you for reminding me often of your presence with me during these times, as you gently pull the weeds from my life and provide rain and sunshine to nurture and encourage me so I can grow up to be holy.”

Barb Lange

Barb Lange, a recently retired paralegal and former schoolteacher, is a Chambersburg native and a graduate of Washington Bible College, where she studied Bible and music. She is a wife, mother of two adult children and “Grammie” to two adorable granddaughters. Music is a huge passion of Barb’s as she enjoys teaching piano, directing a homeschool teen choir in the Franklin County area, and playing piano for church each Sunday. Barb loves connecting with women of all ages, encouraging them to seek healthy relationships with God, in marriage and in their friendships. She shares her journey of a broken marriage on her Facebook ministry page called “Hope and Healing - Barb Lange.” She finds great joy in pointing women to El Roi, the God who sees them and who wants to redeem their story for His glory!


Donna VanWert 6 months ago

Thank you for this great reminder to count it all joy.

Barb Lange 6 months ago

Donna, I'm glad it could be an encouragement to you ! I know I need it!

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