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Consider it Joy?

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”               

—William Shakespeare

Biologists have discovered, as strange as it seems, habitual well-being is not advantageous to a species. Life without challenge takes its toll on every living thing.

Consider animals in a zoo. Zoo animals have a trouble-free shelter and environment constructed for them, food and water delivered to them, all while they lie around and get fat. Their survival instincts and their spirits are dulled. They can never be set free.

Or consider trees in a rainforest. Because water is so readily available, their root systems don’t extend more than a couple feet below the surface. They’re so shallowly anchored they can be easily toppled by a gust of wind.

Contrast this with the wild fig trees in the arid region of South Africa. Their root systems are forced to sink some 400 feet into the earth to reach moisture and nutrients. As a result of their being solidly anchored, there isn’t a wind that can harm them.

Nature shows us: an unfriendly habitat actually contributes to stability and vigor. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

The apostle Peter addressed a letter “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered…” (1 Peter 1:1). The Jews of the dispersion, they were called. Persecution and trials were their everyday norm. Peter reminds them that they’re deeply rooted in the sovereign will of God—and were bringing forth fruit. Concerning trials they faced, he offers:

“These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).

James, of course, set the trials and adversity of this life in proper perspective when he urges, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

These passages call on us to consider adversity and trial from the vantage point of confidence in God’s sovereignty. He’s accomplishing something in us. When suffering, “Do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:14-15).

We are to fix our eyes on Jesus. We may not completely understand, but with roots of faith sunk deeply in our God, life’s strongest gales won’t topple us. Rather, they’ll further contribute to our stability and vigor. Oh joy!

My prayer this week —Father, thank you for the many things you use in my life to grow my faith—even trials and adversity. Would you help me to bring a heavenly perspective to my struggles this week? Will you grow my faith—deepen my roots—in you?