Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lessons in James: When The Answer Is "No"

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
The crown of life-- what a treasure to look forward to! I've talked before on the blog about the rewards that God promises to those who love him and obey him faithfully throughout their lives. And there is certainly a great wealth of heavenly treasures that followers of Christ can joyfully anticipate as we wait to meet Jesus face to face. But the process of getting there won't be a bed of roses. No pain, no gain, right?

In fact, Jesus promised us:
Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows...
But, thankfully, in the same breath, He also reminds us:
But take heart, because I have overcome the world! John 16:33
I doubt it's any great surprise to most of us that trials will come and (usually) go. We're all pretty accustomed to aches and pains, whether physical, mental, emotional, financial, or otherwise-- some much worse than others. We know what it is to suffer for a time. But I want to speak, today, to those of you who are facing the trial that will not end. Because sometimes, despite all faith, all prayer, all attempts to trust... that miraculous healing, that needed money, that answer from above simply does not come!

We serve a God who is able to heal, despite what the doctors say; is able to provide, despite an economy that predicts otherwise; is able to offer the perfect words of wisdom when no one else knows what to say.

AND YET, He reserves the right to simply say "no."

For those of you that have heard "no" far more times than you would like, take heart today! Know that if you are honestly seeking and obeying God's will for your life and are faithfully trusting in his provision, your plight is not a form of punishment or a product of sin. Sometimes, God simply calls us to carry a heavy cross, and sometimes for a very long time, perhaps even our entire earthly lives.

In my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression, which I have talked about here before, I find myself believing sometimes that if my faith were just a little bit stronger, if my prayers were a little more frequent, then maybe I would be able to push past these feelings of panic and fear and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, simply overcome them and live a "normal" life in spite of them. And while that thought sounds great coming from an inspirational coffee mug, the truth is that sometimes, God just doesn't work that way. Sometimes, the life he has called me to live is just different from what others practice and seem to expect of me as well (at least in my head anyway).

And the thing I'm learning to accept is that that's OK! That maybe there isn't anything "wrong" with me. Maybe this is simply the trial that God has called me to, and that maybe, in fact, quite possibly, he has no intention of removing it any time soon, if ever, this side of heaven.

And in that acceptance, I am also learning to believe that despite my "failure", as a result of these struggles, to do the things, sometimes, that other Christians seem to do so easily, I am not a disappointment to my Father. I am not less of a Christian. And, while I certainly lack the grace and patience at times that God requires, I have pressed on in faith and trust, and will one day receive that crown of life!

So, sufferer, whoever you are, whatever your pain, know that you are not "broken" either; you are not being punished-- you are a treasure to your Maker (who made you exactly as you are), and you have a great treasure waiting for you, too!

I'll leave you with these precious words by Charles H. Spurgeon, which my husband so graciously passed along to me yesterday:
"You Little-Faiths, you Despondencies, you Much-Afraids, you Feeble-Minds, you that sigh more than  you sing, you that would but cannot, you that have a great heart for holiness, but feel beaten back in your struggles, the Lord shall give you his love, his grace, his favor, as surely as he gives it to those who can do great things in his name."


  1. I appreciate your transparency, Tarrah. In my own case, having a child has been a very revealing experience about myself and I'm realizing how prone to anxiety and to some extent depression I am due to my perfectionist tendencies. This awareness is not a cure, but I can watch my emotions occur in response to circumstances, and see more of WHY I am feeling that way. My counselor recommended the book "The Search For Significance" by Robert S. McGee. I would have never thought I needed such a book, because I don't feel like I feel insignificant. It is a Christian book that deals with multiple areas of how we assign value to ourselves (perfectionism, approval of others, etc) rather than God's value. So when we don't meet those standards we set for ourselves, anxiety and depression can be some of the results. I'm only in chapter 3, but already I've seen so much of myself in the pages it is mind-boggling. While I cannot speak to whether any of these issues could be a contributing factor for you as well, I think it is already an amazing book and I think everyone could benefit from reading it. Prayers for both of us in our continued struggles with these issues.

    1. Hey Michelle. Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll definitely check it out.