Count It All Joy

The other day, I ran the Jeep right into the garage.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.  The door was up, and I wasn’t going that fast.  I was just pulling in, and I heard Wes in the back of my mind saying, “You’re leaving too much room on the passenger side!” So, I got it close.  
Too close.
I felt some resistance before I saw any damage.  And to be fair, I didn’t see the damage until I started backing the Jeep back up to correct myself, when my eyes followed the girls’ outstretched fingers as they said, “Mommy, is that part of the garage that just fell off?”
Yes.  Yes, it was.  
On closer investigation, I was able to assess the damage.  The Jeep was no worse for the wear.  A little bit of paint that I could scratch right off and just a tiny little wear along the molded body parts (technical name) that sit over the wheels.  It had held up remarkably well.  The garage door was another story.  I scratched a bunch of paint off the part that lines up next to the house, and the molding around the sides?  Yeah, that just popped right off, nails bent and all.  It’ll take some doing to fix it, unfortunately.  (Poor Wes. He was all “you ran into the house?!”  It happens.)
One collision.  Two very different outcomes.  One came out without lasting damage.  The other… not so much.
It made me think of trials, of the difficulties we face in our walks of faith, and how we endure.  Granted, the Jeep and the garage door are made of entirely different things, which accounts for how they weathered my stupidity differently (truth), but I think the metaphor still works for us as believers, as we come from different backgrounds and experiences yet share the commonality of trials in general.  
We all face them.  We all deal with them.  How we grow through them, though… well, there are differences, aren’t there?
Troubles come, challenges abound, and we all face our own stuff, don’t we?  I feel like I’ve been weathering it all like our poor garage door, lying there broken and in serious need of repair.  Woe is me, I say, because life sure does stink sometimes.  
But God is good, because He surrounds me with others within the body of Christ who are far stronger than I am and who show me what endurance looks like and what perseverance produces.  Most of them are right there in our ladies’ Bible study groups, challenging and encouraging me with their walks.  The woman who is going through chemo.  The woman who is recently widowed.  The woman who has children who are struggling. The woman who is walking through something she can’t even voice in our prayer time.  I watch and am challenged as they face life’s collisions and come out stronger, having looked to God in the midst of it all for His strength, His wisdom, and His peace.  They aren’t looking to themselves and their abilities — they’re looking to God and trusting in His sovereignty.
I’ve been studying through the book of James, and I keep coming back to this…
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4, ESV
We can face the trials that come not only with confidence and power but also with joy, knowing that God will work in us so that we come out more confident in His strength, more convinced of His goodness, and more equipped to testify to His grace.  Like Ana and Emma have loved singing during this season in our lives, “the Lord IS a warrior, the Lord is mighty in battle, the Lord IS a warrior, Lord of hosts is He.”  That truth doesn’t change, and His goodness and His power remains the same, no matter what we go through.
What we become through all of it – Jeep or garage door – depends on how we see it and who we put our trust in…  

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