Almost unbelievably, it’s nearly the end of 2017! Each year seems to pass by more and more quickly, perhaps propelled by the increasing pace of life and demands upon my time. As strange as it sounds I measure the speed of my existence by the apparent frequency with which I put the bins out for collection. It seems to come round more quickly each week!
As I look back over the past year I’m reminded of the following verses from James chapter 1…
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Each year presents its own challenges, but this year seems to have been particularly testing for a variety of reasons. I’ve faced a number of disappointments because things haven’t worked out as I had planned or hoped, and battled with a variety of stresses and a period of illness, but through everything God is teaching me just to keep going and to trust that my life and my future are in his hands. I think we too often rely on our own ideas, resources and effort, or we put our faith in other people to fulfil the plans we have, rather than placing our full trust in God.
When things don’t work out as we had envisaged, its easy blame God or question his guidance. Sometimes however, things just don’t make sense and it is a case of digging deep, realising we don’t have the answers to all the questions, and persevering through the trials. It’s in the testing that we are made stronger and our characters are shaped and refined. God is more interested in our relationship with him and our trust in his provision, than in what we can achieve for him or how successful we are.
When we are in the midst of the difficulty our instinct is to want to get out of the situation and find relief from suffering. This passage in James seems counter-intuitive as it starts out by telling us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. It’s not suggesting that we enjoy the pain in some masochistic way, but we look to what the hardship is achieving, which is perseverance. The passage also tells us to allow perseverance to “finish its work” so we can become complete. Life can be unbearable sometimes, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, because if we’re walking with Jesus there is hope and a future beyond this world where we will be made whole and there will be no more suffering. Someone once told me that if you get off the train when it’s still in the tunnel because the journey is too dark, you’ll still be in the dark. Stay on the train, persevere, and reach and light!
Despite some of the difficulties of the last year, I also have a lot be thankful for. I have a lovely family, a job and my health, and God has blessed me with about 50 new songs! I’ve managed to record an EP and share my songs with people, which has been a great joy! I’m planning my second EP for next year and it’s going to be bigger and better! I also have some exciting developments in the pipeline which will hopefully open up more opportunities to lead worship and play gigs. Watch this space for updates!
Have a great Christmas and New Year and I’ll be back in 2018 with more music, blogs, gigs and videos!