Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trials = Joy

~ James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
~ Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Hello all. It has been a while since the last time I wrote. There has been much going on in my life. Most of it, I know, is in the form of lessons. One lesson in particular: Perspective. Counting trials as joy.
I know, I know. I have given conversations about this topic. I know this command well, yet I still struggle with it time and time again. Why? I am forgetful. It is as a Christian broadcast said: “We often remember the miracles and answered prayers in the Scriptures, but we often forget the working of God in our lives.” What a statement that is!
I was met with an interesting day this past week. Everything that could go wrong electronically at work went wrong. Every task I must do needs to be done at a certain time so the consumer gets their product on time. The fryers cooled down on their own and turned off when I put my back to them to wrap up some products. I turned them back on and watched them heat up, then dropped in my noon-day meal, only to have the fryers turn off and cool down. I struggled with my frustration level and reminding myself that each day will have its challenges. Each day, I will be met with a struggle of some sort. Yet it is my choice to my attitude. I can say: “Oh great! My whole day is ruined! What a disaster! I’ll never complete my tasks this way! Ughhh!”  Or I did say, “Ok God, today one of those days with lots of shadows. It is another day to live for You nonetheless. Help me to make right choices in regards to my attitude. Please be a light through me in this situation. I want to be frustrated and toss my hands in the air and…and just be so angry! But I would rather glorify You.” It is good to have emotions. God made them…but the emotions that do not reflect His character are the ones I know I should most avoid. They do not honor Him.
I helped a gentleman with his lunch and he told me he would like a coffee to go with it. He was tired and it had been a long day. I turned to make him a nice hot latte. Wouldn’t you know it – the milk steamer sprayed my hand (ouch!) then stopped providing steam to heat the milk. I sighed, “Just a moment, this is giving me a bit of trouble today.” He smiled and told me it looked like I was having a rough day. I told him I was indeed having quite a turbulent day, and a hard one. I wasn’t afraid to admit I was struggling. He told me flat out that I was dealing with bad karma. I got the steam wand working again and spoke to him as I worked. “Sir, in all respect, I don’t believe in karma: it is works oriented. To have good karma, I would have to work hard to gain it, when I know that I make mistakes. It is a stressful way to live, trying to consistently be perfect. Can you imagine the strain of trying to be perfect every day?” I paused. Being perfect is impossible. He said. “Sir, I believe in God. I am a Christian. I admit: I am frustrated, but do you know what? I know that I am to count this very upsetting moment in my life as joy itself. And I will.” Trials as joy? He asked me. “Yes. I know that I am imperfect and when I encounter trials, I view them as a tool that God will use to cause me to grow in knowledge and understanding. You see, this is a small trial and when the larger trials of life come, I will be strong and wise to handle them in the manner that they should be handled.” He just gave me this look and opened his mouth, but said nothing. He paid for his order and then shook his head with this smile. I won’t forget his words: “That is amazing. I never thought of it that way. You should know: You are a light.” The words took me by such surprise. I hadn’t considered that in my frustrated, unhappy day, that I would see joy in the trial. God had shone through me and in my tough day, He’d planted a seed in this man’s heart using me. What other can I say as I reflect on this day than wow. Do you want to know something? That changed my entire day. Did my day get easier all of the sudden? Or did my equipment begin working properly? No, it got rougher as the lunch rush-hour came around. But! I saw the perspective I needed to have. This trial, if for nothing else than to have that conversation with that gentleman, was so very worth it. This trial was my joy because in that five minute interaction, God worked through me. I am amazed, I am praying for that guest as well as for more situations like this one.
(…and for those who question: My coworkers came around me as a support frame, encouraging me along in my tasks and helping me whenever they could. I completed my tasks by the end of my shift. A sweet relief, I am grateful.)
For all those who are having a rough day, I hope this little ray of sunshine from my life brightens yours. Until next time, God bless.