James 1:2-4 ESV
“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.”
I am going through a trial right now. It pales by comparison to what other Christians are suffering in other nations, but nonetheless it is still a trial, and I am still going through it, and it indeed has its difficult moments and its challenges which are stretching and which are challenging my faith.
About a month ago we discovered feces of some kind in the drawer underneath our oven, which we thought initially was from cockroaches, which are something we deal with all the time, but so far is manageable. But then my husband found a mouse in our pantry, and then we realized we were dealing with a much bigger problem.
Long story short, the mice were not just in our pantry, but they were underneath and behind our stove and our refrigerator, and they were underneath our sink and our dishwasher, and it appears they had or may still have multiple entry points into our kitchen, although my husband has been diligent about blocking their pathways as much as is possible.
The big thing for me is the smell of the mice. I have a benign tumor in my lung which contributes to breathing issues for me and I have had an unofficial diagnosis of asthma previously. So, it is difficult for me to breathe in some circumstances, but normally this is manageable. But the smell of the mice and whatever comes along with that is getting down into my lungs and is inhibiting my breathing and is causing pain in my body.
I admit that there are days when I just want to break down and cry. The cockroaches are bad enough, especially when I discover one on my ceiling directly over my head, but now we have the mice issue added to that, but the worst of it is how it impacts my health. And mice do carry with them diseases, so we are being diligent about cleaning up anything we see of their deposits and disinfecting and spraying rodent repellent.
So, I am working through all my emotions before the Lord in prayer, and I am giving this situation over to him, and I am continually reminded of his love and grace, of his watch and care over me, and of his sovereignty over my life and of his control over all things, even over mice and cockroaches.
I know God has allowed all of this for my good, and that he is working good in it and through it for his glory. I know my life and my health are in his capable hands and that I have no reason to fear anything. The circumstances are disconcerting, but God is good all the time. And he will see me through this, and I will be strengthened in my faith through it.
In my married life we have dealt with pin worms, lice, cockroaches, mice, bed bugs, chiggers, ants, snakes, slugs, black widow and brown recluse and other spiders, earwigs, centipedes, and various other critters, and God has gotten me through each and every one of these challenges, the worst of all was the bed bugs. I cried a lot with that one.
Moment by moment I am giving this present situation over to the Lord, trusting him to work it all out for good in my life and in other people’s lives who may also be touched by it. The Lord is teaching me much through this present trial and he is continuing to mature me in my walk of faith in him and to produce in my life steadfastness, so this is good. Praise His Name!
James 1:5-8 ESV
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
We live in an apartment complex, so it is really the responsibility of the management here to resolve our mice issue, but they are short staffed, as a lot of people are, so we have had to do much of this ourselves in the way of finding the mice’s entry points and blocking them and cleaning up their mess and securing our food so that they can’t get into it, etc.
So, I have been praying much for wisdom to know what we need to do to resolve this situation, and I believe the Lord has been giving me wisdom to know what to do and how to do it and of the urgency of getting it done in a timely manner and not waiting on the management here to resolve it all for us. And I believe we have made good progress.
Yet, if I had asked the Lord for wisdom, and then I did not act on the wisdom that he gave me, the problem could have grown much worse here, or if I doubted him and if I became fearful over my health situation, and I did not trust him with my health, too, things could be a whole lot worse.
And this reminds me a lot of sin, for mice are vermin, and vermin are filthy, and they carry diseases, and symbolically they represent those who are wicked, immoral, despicable, obscene, lewd, vile, corrupt, dishonest, etc. And sin is injurious to our spiritual health. And sin creeps into various aspects of our lives if we let it and if we are not guarding against it.
And as long as the sin remains, and as long as the sin is not dealt with at the cross, which is a daily thing of dying to sin, it will continue to cause harm to the life of the one who is still holding on to the sin and who is keeping the sin hidden from view. And so it needs to be cleaned out, and it needs to be purged and purified by the blood of Jesus via repentance.
For, the person who prays for wisdom from God in dealing with sin but then does not take the counsel of God, and then does not apply that wisdom to his life, and who then does not open the doors to his heart and let the Lord Jesus clean out all that sin is indeed double-minded. He will not receive anything from the Lord for he still has the vermin hiding inside him.
James 1:12 ESV
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
So, when we are going through trials which test our faith, we must not cave to fear, but we must trust the Lord, and we must rely on his wisdom and his strength to see us through the trial. We must trust in his sovereignty over our lives, and we must let him work his will in our lives in teaching us whatever it is we need to learn in order to continue to mature in him.
And if your trial is unrepented sin which is eating away at your life and your relationships with other people, and if you are praying for wisdom from God, but you find yourself repeating the same sins over again, please know that you will not receive anything from the Lord unless you are willing to cooperate with him in ridding your life of that sin. You have to obey him.
So, this is the thing here. If we listen to the Lord, and if we walk in obedience to his commands, not necessarily in absolute sinless perfection, but in consistent walks of faith in purity of devotion to the Lord, we will receive the crown of life, for to love God is to obey him.
But if we stubbornly hold on to our sin in rebellion against our Lord, and we refuse to submit to his Lordship over our lives and to obey his commands, then we are not promised the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love and obey him. We will die in our sins, instead. So, don’t be stubborn and unyielding. Cooperate with God in getting that vermin out of your heart and life and walk in victory over sin the rest of your days.
Blessed Be Your Name
by Matt Redman
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be the name of the Lord
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
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