Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "We Gather Together"1 (Lyrics)
James 1:2-4 – 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. (ESV)
As I have written elsewhere, I have a yearly dialogue with the tax department. Year-on-year, they seem unable to join up the dots between our income and their rules. This year was no different. In COVID-19 times, it was more troublesome to find a competent official to sort out our claim. Finally, having logged all the necessary data, I enlisted the help of my Member of Parliament. Thankfully, under his influence and my logged data, a more senior inspector was invoked and was able to put things right. It was a small thing in reality that loomed large until it was resolved.
In this case, I was not in control, and it caused me stress to know others' indifference to their own rules. It is true that I hate injustice, but I also like to win. By the grace of God, in such cases, I still have the tenacity and hope that somehow God will come through for us, or show me another way or perspective, which He has done again. Praise God, what a relief!
Under stress, maybe we want to grasp, own, and hold close our fear, pride, situation, and possessions. Paradoxically, holding too tightly emotions and situations that are unhelpful is not what God has called us to be and do as His disciples. Jesus is waiting to be included, but sometimes my inner voice says, Does Jesus really care enough about me to give me the victory? How can I let this into His hands? What if I lose? Jesus told us that His love casts out fear, so I have to lay it down at His feet and be prepared to let go and maybe lose. Sometimes, usually at the end of what I can do, I am glad to recognize Jesus' sovereignty over me.
Perhaps, like me, you have had in your consciousness that wretched one, a small voice, that small child who screams and stamps his foot, "It's not right!" — until we allow Jesus to bring His peace into our passions, both good and bad.
Not always do the circumstances change, although sometimes — like this one — they do. But through the process of allowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit into our deepest longings, hopes, anxiety, and fears, our perception of it may change. Even if only we know this revelation for a moment, we will find the confidence to allow Jesus partnership earlier and more sincerely each time, because we know that His love for us is a game-changer, enabling us to push on through the challenge to the other side.
Prayer: Lord, here we are, open-handed. We lift to You today all the stuff that we are clinging to so desperately, in body, mind, and spirit. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts and grant us the wisdom to let You in, to see that You are greater than the things that we carry, those both known and unknown. Father, in Jesus' name, come and refresh our hearts and minds to take Your presence into the world today. Amen.