I have promised to share what I learn as I go through this journey.
This section was about keeping strong during the tough times. James reminds us to consider these tough times as pure joy and an opportunity to mature in our faith.
I remember reading this book a few years ago and thought James was crazy for suggesting this idea. The thought that something bad in my life could be a good thing was absurd.
Then my three-year-old Godson died.
Our family was heartbroken and in so much pain.
So many people shared this common phrase with me: “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”. I resented this phrase.
Why would God test my faith by taking away a child I loved? Why would God cause so much pain for our family? A God who is about love and about compassion. I challenged this statement by asking God to help me understand.
Asking God for help is what James suggests we do when we are lacking answers. So that’s what I did, I asked God for wisdom and waited for God’s answers.
At my Godson’s funeral, I still remember what the priest said to the congregation of 300 people: Wyatt’s death was not an act of God. This comment stuck with me because it was the complete opposite of what I thought I knew. The complete opposite of that phrase I resented.
But James writes that God doesn’t tempt our faith. God would not purposely cause bad things in our lives to test us our faith. It’s just not who God is.
A few months after Wyatt’s death, I asked God to guide me and help our family get through this pain. Soon, God nudged me to write my thoughts down to help with my grief. This gave birth to one of my first stories I published online.
Today, I write on many platforms and have found my voice in the writing community. Inspiring others to explore their faith is my purpose in life. I wouldn’t say I experienced joy and of course Wyatt’s death was not a good thing, but I can’t help but acknowledge losing Wyatt had a small part in helping me find my purpose. Writing that article about him uncovered a desire I didn’t even know was inside me.
For that, I’ll be forever grateful.
The reality is bad things will happen and our faith will be tested. That’s not God’s doing, that’s just life. When our faith is tested it naturally produces perseverance. We have to remember to lean on God to help get through the pain and let God bring us out of the darkness toward the light. God will help us persevere through our unfortunate circumstances. We just have to remember to ask for help – and have faith God will help. It just may be in ways we may not understand today.
When I began to take Christianity seriously, I knew it was time to focus on reading the Bible. Even though I listened to the readings in Church, I had never read the Bible on my own – not even one full chapter.
I love setting goals – so I set myself a goal to read the Bible in it in its entirety – starting with Genesis all the way through to Revelations. It took 6 months and to be honest, I grasped nothing, but I was so happy I could say I read it!
Somebody once told me, the first time you read the bible you may not understand it – but keep reading it and don’t give up. So that’s what I did, and now I follow a structured daily reading plan. Reading the Bible daily has exponentially increased my spiritual growth.
Here are 3 things I did that helped me enjoy reading the Bible.
1) Bought a Bible in a version I could understand.
Any bookstore will offer an abundance of Bibles in all different colors and sizes. I bought one with a soft cover that wasn’t too big to carry and not too small to read. I also wanted a version I could understand so I decided on the New International Version (NIV).
2) Added Bible Tabs to my Bible
As I studied the Bible more, I noticed I was wasting a lot of time navigating from book to book. I added Bible Tabs to my Bible and it has been a life changer!
I bought these at Michaels – but you can check any Christian store or Amazon.
This is what my Bible looks with the tabs on them:
3) Started Marking up my Bible with Highlighters
I never had the desire to write notes in my Bible. It was almost as if the book was too holy and it would be a sin to mark it up. About 6 months ago I started to highlight verses that stood out and I haven’t looked back! It was the best decision I made. Using the Bible as a workbook has made the process become personal and sacred.
I bought these on Amazon:
One Final Thought
Remember, the authors the Bible were real people. Real people living in a different time who were inspired by God. Real people looking through a particular lens, sharing their stories. Stories that shaped their experience and perspective. Our job is to read the story, highlight the themes and figure out how the message relates to our lives, in our time.
It’s not about the physical words we read, it’s about what happens to us spiritually when we read scripture. What is the theme or the story trying to tell us about our life? How can we improve the areas of our life?
Don’t try and read too much in the beginning. If I were to do it again, I’d start small and focus on a chapter a day, or even a verse a day. Reading the Bible is not a race. It’s a spiritual practice and should relax, encourage and motivate you.
If you turn this practice into a daily habit, be open and take your time, I promise, you will be enlightened!