Ummm….God, I got a question. There are lots of your scriptures I hold on to everyday to give me encouragement.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

“You will never leave me or forsake me”.

“You have plans for me, not to harm me, but to prosper me, to give me hope and a future”.

I like all of those, they feel good to me. They let me know you have my back, that I have you on my side, and that I never, ever have to face things alone. These give me comfort. While meditating on these, I feel, as your child, I can just crawl right up in your lap, and you will take care of it all.

But then…I run across a scripture that makes want to ask, “where’s the love, God”. Why are you trying to set me up? Like this one:

James 1:2-4 The Message (MSG)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

Uhhh, What? Why would I consider it a gift, a SHEER gift, to be tested and tried from all sides? I don’t know about you, but during times like this, I DO NOT consider it a gift. I whine, I cry, I moan and complain, but never have I considered it a gift. Oh, thank you God for this hard time I am having to endure…..those words have never came out of my mouth.

So, you are telling me that when I am tested on ALL sides, to think of it as a gift. When my marriage is on the rocks, when I am lost at any direction to take as a parent, when I am not happy in my job, when I struggle financially to just barely make the ends meet, when I have lost motivation, when I face a loss of a loved one, when my emotions are scattered and I am just trying to maintain control, when it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other…..count all of that as a gift? Wouldn’t it make more sense to count your blessings a gift, to consider my accomplishments, my achievements, the times I get it right, the times I’m happy, the times I do have things together, when I am motivated, and love everyone around me….wouldn’t it make more sense to count those times as a gift?

But, this is what I have learned over the past few years; there are some strengths, and some really amazing stuff on the inside of you that will never see the light of day without some sort of hardship to bring it out. Facing hard times brings out the fighter in us, when facing easier times usually makes us complacent.

The rest of James 1:2-4 (MSG) says this: You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

The couch potato will not be as strong as the guy that goes to the gym and puts some resistance against his muscles. It’s the resistance that makes him strong, not the relaxing.

Place a seed on a table, or the floor, or carry it in your pocket, and it will always be a seed. But bury this tiny, weak seed in some soil, and it will have to fight to grow to bust through the soil, but it will, and it will become so much more just a tiny, weak seed. It will produce itself many times over and will become a harvest.

When life offers resistance, pressure, and places that make us uncomfortable, it is just the platform in which we can shine and become more than we were, if we choose to “try not to get out prematurely”.

I do not believe that God ever puts hard times on us, but I do think He uses them to our good, to grow us, to show us our own strengths, to produce something in us that was there all along, to make us a harvest and not just leave us a seed. (Rom 8:28)

So, whatever “tests or challenges” you are facing today, draw comfort from all the scriptures that we love to quote an make us feel all warm on the inside, but realize that nothing can come against you that God can’t bring some good out of. Know that it is this resistance that makes you stronger, know that maybe, just maybe, there are some amazing capabilities to be found within that you would have never went looking for until you really needed them. He has equipped us with everything we would ever need, sometimes we just have to find that out for ourselves. Resistance is not fun or easy and certainly not enjoyable, but it makes our muscles grow, it makes our faith grow, and it the way we see our own selves grow.

You have grace to face this day, this challenge, this obstacle.

You have the grit you needed to push against the resistance. Grunt if you must, but push.

You are going to look back one day and be amazed at your own strength.

Consider it a gift…

-Rachel Ray