I grew up in a measure of privilege. We weren’t rich, but we were comfortable. I never feared poverty. Then seasons of life brought me to the other side of the tracks. I came to understand scarcity and fear of want. Anxiety washed over me when bills arrived. I even at times could barely purchase food.
I actually thank God for this. As much as poverty is unpleasant, it taught me things I could never have learned from material security. It taught me work ethic. It taught me frugality. It taught me trust. And even more than what it taught me, it brought me somewhere new. It brought me to compassion. It brought me to empathy for the poor. It brought me to an awareness of what most of the world feels every day. I can’t thank God enough for poverty.
On one very bad day when many things were going wrong, a friend began to sing a little song about smiling through trials. I felt like punching her. No one enjoys trials in the moment. But we can learn to rise above them when we adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset says, “The most important thing is not my pleasure, prosperity, or temporal happiness, but my growth in Jesus.” Set success on earth as the ultimate goal, and we will be disappointed. It’s guaranteed. Everyone eventually dies and loses it all. Set our growth in Jesus as the ultimate goal, we will never be disappointed. Never. Because God promises growth regardless of what comes.
Scan your memory for trying experiences that yielded growth of character? Bring one particular time to mind. What did you learn? How did you grow? Think on that for a moment, and thank God out loud for it.
Dear God, teach us to count it all joy when we fall into trials. No matter what we do, we will not be able to make our lives trial-free. So teach us to accept what we cannot change, gleaning all the good we can from misfortunes and difficulties. Thank you for recycling and reframing these trials such that we can rise above them. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3