Handling the Cards You've Been Dealt

Read This: "My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him." (James 1: 2-5)

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Think: Sometimes we look around and think everyone else has it all together. Some are better looking, come from better families, make more money, or don’t ever seem to face hardships. While it’s true that some have to deal with more pain and obstacles in life than others, everyone has a story. Suffering is a consequence of the fallen world we live in and no one gets a free pass. But we don’t have to be defined by our suffering; instead we can allow God to turn it into something beautiful.


Looking back through the Bible at our spiritual legacy is a reminder of the many men and women who glorified God through their suffering. One familiar story comes to mind—Job, a man who was targeted by Satan because of his righteousness. He lost all his children and his wealth in one day and eventually his health as well. No one had words to comfort him and his wife employed him to curse God. But instead he responded, “Should we receive what is good from God, and not also receive what is evil?” (Job 2:10). While he grieved and mourned his circumstances, he did not sin. Everyone thought he had been abandoned by God, but Job remained faithful. At the end of the book we learn that God restored to Job double what he lost. At the time Job didn’t know God would do that for him, he was faithful simply because he loved the Lord.


God always has a purpose for the cards we’re given. In Genesis when Joseph meets up with his brothers who had sold him into slavery years before, he is full of forgiveness and exclaims, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose” (Genesis 50:19-20). Maybe your story is for the benefit of others. But it’s also possible that the difficult circumstances or difficult people in your life are there solely for your benefit. God uses those situations to work in our hearts and perfect our faith. In Hebrews 12 Paul tells us to consider our suffering as discipline from our heavenly father. Those who aren’t disciplined are not sons and daughters. Paul acknowledges it’s painful at the time, but “later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness” (v. 11).


Instead of being afraid of the bad cards, we should start to get nervous when we don’t have enough. When life is too easy, it’s time to step out into obedience and take more risks to allow God to mold us and refine us. Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith; he endured the cross for the joy set before him. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have the same hope and eternal joy that awaits us after the suffering of this life has long passed.


Ask: Think about the most difficult trails you’ve had to face. How did your relationship with God change during that time? What did you learn that will help you persevere through difficulties you’ll face in the future?


Pray: Ask God to give you the courage to have the kind of attitude the apostle Paul exemplifies in the key passage for this devotional—to consider it a joy to face trials.

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