The most difficult Bible verse ever….

A story about a croquette sandwich and more.

Well, reading the bible is sometimes not too easy, but what about this verse:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

Say what?! Pure joy? Uhhh… Wait a minute… What a terrible that verse is! Why “pure joy” when you’re in trouble. Please explain. (that’s right, I could get mad about that Bible verse in my past)

Well… let’s dive into a conversation I had with someone last week. Let’s put it this way: that young man was NOT doing great. Definitely NOT good. Imagine something terrible, add some, repeat that a couple of times, and you still have no idea. That bad. Let’s call him X.

But now it comes…. X knows we are having a conversation with the bible in our hand… he knows where we draw our strength… And X comes to us… to that bible, to God… and yes, we talk about his misery, but with God on our side… And instead of X running away from God (and I can see why he could have done that), we’re talking about God, how this all came to be and things like that. So X comes, through all his misery… closer to God… The pain X has is real… but somewhere… they go through that pain together… and they come closer together… and find peace in it?!… despite the pain… And with step, X draws closer to God??

When we ask whether X has ever looked at it that way, he says: no, but it is correct, he says. He had never seen it that way before… but now that he is aware of it, something “strange” is starting to happen…

X’s pain in the conversation seems to be changing. Yes, the physical pain is still there. But the mental pain… he suddenly understands. And as strange as it may be… the conversation suddenly becomes sunnier. X is actually happy. Happy with his “trials”. wow….

And where we can never share that strange Bible verse (which we started with), we have now shared it with X… and X got the verse. “That’s me” he said! “I am getting closer to God through all my misery, how beautiful it is!”.

But, the pain of today. That’s real. Poor X… I would NOT trade with him. So, what about that pain today? What about your faith in God when things aren’t going well?

First, we asked if X knows what mustard is. Well, he knew that, that goes with your croquette! (Dutch snack) Yummy! There’s a lot of flavour in that.

But did you know that that enormous taste comes from a tiny seed? And yes, X knew that too… and then we grabbed the following bible piece:

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Mark 4:31, 32

How do you deal with your faith with through all the pain?

Step 1 is to plant the seed… it may seem small, sometimes tiny, but plant it anyway. So take a step towards God… as small as it may seem… (and a mustard seed is tiny, by the way)

Step 2: Trust that it will still be there the next day. Don’t yank it out of the ground evert day to look at it…It’s not going to work like that. So: trust plays a major role.

Step 3: Make sure to give it water, sun and more… but… You are NOT alone in this! God will provide you with rain and sun. He will. It’s not a question of “if” He will do that for you, it’s “when.” That also means reading your bible…. with that, you give that seed “water”.

Step 4: Give it time. It’s not like: BAM there’s a tree.. Yes, that would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way.

Step 5: make sure there are no weeds, if there are: get rid of the weeds…. Weeds sting… wow that stings… get rid of them and ask your personal gardener God to help you with that:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

By the way, if you’re wondering… who understands my pain? Then that’s Jesus. He hadn’t done anything wrong. NOTHING. And yet… He went… on a cross… was tortured, nails through His hands, a spear in the side, a crown of thorns (weeds) on His head… So if someone catches your pain, how you feel… with all your pain from the weeds … that’s Jesus…

Anyway, let’s continue with that mustard seed:

Step 6: It’s HARD work… very hard work… God knows and if you need rest, ask Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Step 7: And Here It Comes… This Is the Best Part! X will be THE most beautiful, powerful and amazing tree there will be. A divine tree. A tree that brings A LOT of flavour!

And no, that doesn’t mean that today’s pain is suddenly gone. But you know one thing for sure: that pain is temporary. And the choice is yours: do you move closer to God in all that pain or not? What does that pain do to you?

Because if you come closer to Him, through all your pain, you are a winner: NOW. Let alone for eternity. And that feeling of victory today makes that pain different. And then you get that very complicated verse:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

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