Yesterday I wrote about us putting into practice what we are taught in James 1. There we are told to change our way of thinking when we are experiencing trials of many kinds. We are told that we should do something that is counterintuitive…which is instead of griping and complaining about the problems we are having we should consider those trials as tests to our faith. And not only that but we should consider it pure joy when we are facing these trials.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
So, what do you do when you are facing problems in your life? Everybody I know has problems especially those of us who have become addicted to porn. We have become sexually broken and this powerful addiction has left a trail of destruction behind us. It may have destroyed our marriage. It cost me my calling and career as a pastor and has left deep scars on my wife and adult children. However, we are seeing God picking up the pieces.
As a result of the destruction sexual sin brings, we can grow angry and have a root of bitterness that seeps into many areas of our lives. Some wives separate from their husbands for a long period of time. Others live in fear their husbands will leave them or run off with another woman. To be sure…it is a very painful and difficult time to be going through.
The next step is to begin to doubt the love God has for us. We can begin to doubt our salvation…that we never had it or if we had it, we have lost it. As if our salvation was hanging in the balance of us being able to live a sexually pure life…which it never has.
I mentioned yesterday that what we need is a paradigm shift in our thinking. Instead of hating ourselves for the things we have done that have led us to this train wreck we are in…what if we do what James is telling us. What if we consider it “pure joy” when it seems to be like we are living in a personal hell?
Not because we are having such a good time in this painful place. But because God can use this mess to test our faith and do a good work in our lives. Are we able to give thanks to God for the disaster we are in… because by faith we are believing He will use it to produce in us perseverance?
Now I realize this will be very difficult for you…but I see only two options as we are living out the consequences of our sexual sins. One is to complain about…feel sorry for ourselves… and become angry old men. Or literally do what this passage tells us to do.
We are told to consider it pure joy that God can use this disaster to strengthen our perseverance. We are NOT being told to be thanking Him for the reality that we ourselves chose to become addicted to porn. But to give thanks that GOD CAN USE THIS MESS to make us stronger men…and nothing is able to make us stronger than persevering through difficult times.
And is our ability to do this…thanking God that He can use this mess to make us stronger and give us greater endurance a major thing or a minor thing? Big deal or little deal? It is a big deal…a major thing because one of the most valuable things we all have is our faith. Our faith is…
“…the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.”
When we are in the post phase of our sexual addiction being exposed there has been an explosion in our lives and the painful destruction seems to be everywhere. We have discovered that a suicide bomber has entered our lives and that bomber is us!!!
But can we look beyond the disaster we have caused and believe God will use it to make us stronger with greater endurance and perseverance? That is what the passage is telling us to do…and not only a mere nodding of the head with a weak response riddled with doubts. But by faith truly believing that God will use it for our benefit and thanking Him for that.
That is a true step of faith…believing that God can use this to make us stronger and better men. Even if we are not feeling that way…having the faith to thank God that He is still in control and will use this to teach us perseverance. However, the passage does not stop there. There is a further result of having our perseverance strengthened…
“Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”
We have been running around feeling like little children who are being punished. We do not feel complete…there has been a train wreck and we just cannot seem to put the pieces back together. Our efforts to save our marriage seem to be failing. Our family is now divided, and we are on the wrong side of the tracks.
So, does it not sound incredible that as our perseverance increases over time, we can become MORE mature and MORE complete…not lacking anything?
Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:6-7…
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Consider it pure joy that God will take this mess we have created and use it to teach us perseverance…and pray prayers with thanksgiving so that His peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.