James 1:2-5 (CEB)

2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. 5 But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.   

Philippians 4:11 (CEB)

11 I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance.   

DEVOTION – Samuel Winchester (South Carolina)

I fly cross-country a lot.  Sometimes I admire the majesty of snow-capped mountains, the vast expanse of lush farmland,  and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.  Other times I focus on the fact that I am squished in the middle seat between two large men and am embarrassed by nearly falling asleep on a stranger.  What is the difference between these two situations?  Nothing, really.  It’s the same plane and the same view.  The difference lies in my perspective.

Flying reminds me that we have to let God shape our perspective during the difficult times of life.  James teaches us that through our trials we can develop a deeper relationship with God.  But if we focus merely on trying to escape the pain of our trials, we might miss God’s blessings.

When I fly, I can choose to focus on the beautiful views or on my cramped seating arrangement.  Similarly, the way we handle trials determines how much we experience God’s triumphant grace in our lives.  God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you:  For my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And Paul chose to “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV).  When we choose to focus on God’s grace, we can draw nearer to God.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The trials we endure can bring us closer to God.

PRAYER: Gracious God, help us to view our trials as times when you are trying to teach us more about yourself.  Amen.