We had a great Sunday today at Harvest. It's great to see the house filling up on Sundays! I am preaching a series of messages on being thankful about some unusual things. Today's text was from James 1:2-4 where we learn to be thankful for our troubles.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
Our troubles lead us through a process. Trouble produces endurance, endurance gives us character, and character equips us for greater service. This process is what enables us to be thankful for our troubles.
I closed the message with a few illustrations of how troubles are not always bad.
First, there was a time when newborn babes were held by the ankles and slapped by their doctors. This little application of pain would cause the baby to cry and clear it's lungs.
Then, we know that baby chicks must struggle to break free from the egg shell which protected them in order to develop the strength necessary to survive outside the shell. Well intended interference with this hatching ritual actually harms the chicks chances for survival.
Pearls are formed when an irritant, usually a piece of sand, works it's way into the shell of an oyster, muscle, or clam. The creatures secrete a fluid to cover the irritant and over the course of time what once was a source of irritation becomes a beautiful pearl.
Diamonds are formed 100 miles beneath the surface of the earth. They are formed from carbon placed under extreme pressure and 2000 degree temperatures. Pressure and heat are essential in forming these precious stones.
Isn't it strange that we do all that we can to avoid pain, struggles, irritations, pressure, and heat? Rather than avoiding these things we should be thankful for them. Perhaps God is using our troubles to give us endurance, create character in us, and equip us to serve him more effectively. Be thankful for troubles!
I'm looking forward to next Sunday...