“How has God helped you to trust Him more during the intense challenges you’ve faced?” Amy Boucher Pye

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2–5, 12)

 
PERSEVERE THROUGH TRIALS

 

“Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!” People were amazed to hear Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who spent 11 years in the forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union, make this remark. In The Gulag Archipelago, he writes that while in prison he realized the difference between good and evil. He also understood his own capacity for evil, which was the opposite of what he thought when he entered the gulag. Therefore, with his understanding enlarged, he saw the blessing of that time of trial.

The blessings that we see in the Old Testament are sometimes connected with prosperity, which can make some modern commentators link these promises to a gospel of prosperity. By doing so, they miss out on the truth at which Solzhenitsyn hints – the blessing we receive when we persevere through trials. As we live in a fallen world, we won’t find our lives to be without the blemish of disappointment, sin, and disease. We will all encounter trials at some point, and when we do, we can look to the Lord for the strength to persevere. In these moments, prayer is key (as we see in James 1:5) for the Lord will grant us wisdom when we ask.

Think about any prisons in which you may have been trapped and how you found release. If this is the case, now when you look back, are you able to say with Solzhenitsyn, “Bless you, prison!”?

Lord of all mercy, give me resilience so that I will be able to stand when I face the storms in my life. Teach me to look to you for help and encouragement. May I persevere through the trial. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  • What do you think of Solzhenitsyn’s “Bless you, prison!” remark? Why?
  • How has God helped you to trust him more during the intense challenges you’ve faced?
  • How can you trust God today with any hard things you are experiencing?
Amy Boucher Pye

Amy Boucher Pye

Amy is a writer, speaker, and spiritual director. She’s the author of several books, including 7 Ways to Pray: Time-Tested Practices for Encountering God. She loves writing devotional thoughts, including for the world-renowned Our Daily Bread. She lives with her family in North London. Find her at amyboucherpye.com or on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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