When having tea with a new friend in Palm Beach, Florida, I was reminded of a certain verse of Scripture. I’ve meditated on James 1: 1-4 for three days now.
Let me start at the beginning. I work for an amazing ministry that sends me out to meet with the people who invest in our international work. I have the privilege of getting to know and working with some giants of faith, those who understand the urgency of the Great Commission. I consistently walk away from a donor brief with insight into what the Lord is doing in the world today. I’m telling you, I am blessed to do this work.
This meeting in Palm Beach was no different.
I’ll call my new friend Jessica. Sipping tea and looking beyond the sun-kissed tourists lounging around the pool and elaborately draped cabanas, Jessica’s gaze fell on the turquoise-blue waters of the Atlantic. “It is beautiful here,” she said.
Then she told me of some ugly places she’s seen.
Jessica explained that the Lord has allowed her, in small part, to see some of the hard-to-understand cruelties of life. Jessica is a lawyer who works pro bono for impoverished juveniles caught in the prison system. She’s wondered around the bowels of earth, the place where those who have been devoured by Satan now dwell. And she goes there without compensation.
I’m not kidding.
There we sat, at the Four Seasons Hotel, no less, and talked of boys who had little hope for a future. Boys caught in a vicious cycle of evil.
I shared one of my own stories. I’ve seen prison. I’ve had a child dwell there.
That’s when Jessica mentioned James 1: 1-4 to me. She reminisced that life is full of trials, and there’s no escaping this truth this side of eternity.
Powerful. Powerful reminder of God’s work.
When I returned from my travels, I looked up notes I’d written years ago on these exact verses. There, I found that I’d mined four nuggets from the waters of truth flowing through the book of James. Here they are:
1. When I am in a trial, I am in by God’s design. (Acts 17:26)
2. When I am in a trial, I am under God’s keeping. (Psalm 121:3)
3. When I am in a trial, I am under His training. (Isaiah 64:8)
4. When I am in a trial, I am in God’s timing. (Acts 17:26, again)
When the Lord pulls me away from sunny shores and drops me into the ashes of this world, it is by design. And that, is beautiful.
Trials prove the Lord righteous and trials prove the Lord trustworthy.
How, you might ask, does all this talk of beautiful beaches and boys in prison come together in James 1:1-4? Here’s my answer: the world our Holy God created is a place of immense beauty and peace but has been marred by the work of an evil force. As children of God, we experience both extremes.
Life in this world’s current and temporal condition is hard and joyful; beautiful and disturbing.
This is why the Great Commission is so very important. We must go into the bowels, along with Jessica, and share the beauty of the Gospel. Share our trials. Share our God.
Eternity is coming.
I pray you consider your trials as God’s design. And I pray you’ll not stop with your inward reflections, but outwardly share these truths with those who have not yet heard the lovely truth of God’s salvation.
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