When I was growing up, my Mom liked to tell my Dad that hard stuff builds character. His response was plain and simple – and hilarious, or so I thought at the time. “I already have enough character,” he would retort. As funny as it seemed at the time, back when I was too young to know much about character and certainly knew absolutely nothing about the Lord, I came to find that it wasn’t quite as funny as I thought. At least that’s what I decided when I became a committed follower of Jesus Christ and started learning all about what exactly character building feels like. Ugh! Argh! Oh my! That’s a pretty description of the wild array of extreme emotions I have experienced through the years as God has relentlessly tried my faith as He perfects His love in me and helps me to grow in His image. To this very day, it boggles my mind that James in the Bible tells us to be JOYFUL when our faith gets tested.

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But when I step back from the trials and tribulations and troubles of life, I realize I really do understand why James tells us to be joyful. God loves us so much that He wants to bring us to full maturity, to truly perfect His love in us, to genuinely bring our faith to a point at which it is wholly placed in Him. The joy isn’t in the challenging circumstances. The joy, I have discovered, is in the Lord Himself. For the end result of all the testing of our faith isn’t just a whole bunch more character. It’s about that through a life genuinely committed to believing in and following Christ, we get to spend eternity with the Lord God almighty in heaven. And there is nothing more joyful in the universe than Him and the promise of forever and ever in His presence!

Jas 1:2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 
Jas 1:3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 
Jas 1:4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

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