“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”– James 1:2-4.
There are two seasons where I live– winter and road construction. Since I saw our last snow flakes in early May, I’d say winter is over, and road construction has been going on for awhile at full throttle. As I have travelled by car around our cities, I have already faced delays, rerouted traffic, closed lanes, detours, added driving time, and reduced speeds. All these things add up to frustration!
Yesterday I had a meeting at our church. It is off of a major freeway, and the exit ramp to the road near the church has been closed for several days. I found a back way to get there using side streets, which took me east of the location, upon which I had to drive further north, then cut back, go south and basically make a huge square to get to my destination. Time-consuming, indirect, and difficult. Such is life.
I am reminded of Moses and the Israelites wandering around in the wilderness to the promised land. The path was actually a straight shot, but they ended up wandering in circles for decades. Why? God used it as a time to trust Him, learn to follow Him, and testing. It was unpleasant, fraught with hardship, and the Israelites responded in typical human fashion by complaining, whining, and moaning about their situation, thinking God had abandoned them.
Can you relate? I know I can. When I can’t get quickly and easily to my perceived destination on the road, I get impatient and frustrated. When I can’t get quickly to my perceived destination in life and wander around off the path for awhile, I am more apt to complain and get angry and frustrated. I remember the time I dreamed of being a physical therapist and started the pre-PT program at college. I worked my tail off for 2 straight years, only to apply to the program and not get in. My dream was squashed and I was devastated. After a few months of wandering around in the wilderness, I decided to switch to a Biology degree. I finished my degree in four years and went on to seminary for grad studies in youth and family ministry. I learned many things after I left the PT dream behind, and grew closer to God, which enabled my call to ministry. I remember the frustration of wandering around, unsure, uncertain, but during the “wilderness” I learned to persevere. To trust and seek God. To pray. To hear my true calling. Perseverance finished its work.
Are you facing a situation in the wilderness today? A road fraught with delays, roadblocks, closed ramps, and re-routed paths? Let us wander with perseverance. Submit your life to God and know He meets you in the wilderness, walks alongside you, and teaches you many things along the way!
Prayer–“God of wanderings, as I wander, you wander with me. Help me in my times of wilderness when things in life don’t go as planned. Give me perseverance and hope, and show me the way through. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”