God has been so amazingly good to me.  Whenever something comes along to test my faith, HE provides a song, a sermon, a Bible study, or a devotion that points me back to the right path.  Most recently, God used James 1:2-4 to remind me of one of the reasons that we, as Christians, face trials.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of any kind, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you might be perfect and complete, wanting nothing.”

Trials are a chance to grow patience.  And when patience has a chance to work in us, we grow.  We become perfect and complete, wanting nothing.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be perfect!  Now, I long ago figured out that I would never be perfect on my own.  But, when I allow God to work through me, I can become perfect.   That is encouraging to me.  God has a reason for allowing me to go through this trial.  It is to make me perfect.  I can be joyful because whatever trial I am going through, God has allowed to grow me into His perfect princess.

My new goal is to be more joyful.  Specifically, to find joy in my trials.  To take a step back and find joy in watching God work.  Turning my life over to His big capable hands.  He is always faithful.  To put this into action, I have started a praise notebook.  At least one day per week, I spend all of my personal prayer time being thankful.  And I write down what I am thankful for.  Sometimes its just a list, sometimes it is word for word as I pray.  The hard part is not adding all of my wants and needs to this prayer.  This  is just a time to tell God how thankful I am for all that He has given me, all that He is doing in my life, and all that I know that He will do.  No requests, no pouring out my woes.  God knows it all already.  Just a time to be thankful!

I want to leave you with this little story from an unknown author.  You have probably heard it before, but I think that is beautifully illustrates the point of joyfully enduring our trials.

The Tea Cup

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup.They said, “May we see that? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.”

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. “You don’t understand,” it said. “I haven’t always been a teacup.

There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, “let me alone”, but he only smiled, “Not yet.”

“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around.Stop it! I’m getting dizzy! I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’

Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as He shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There, that’s better,’ I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’

Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet.’

Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’

‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up.

I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.

I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life. And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven,you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.