"Consider it all JOY, brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4
Consider it all JOY, my brethren, when you encounter various trials... such as the tragedy that struck my family last October 3 when two gun-wielding criminals riding a motorbike fired multiple shots at my eldest brother and his 15 year-old son. It happened so fast in split seconds that both of them died on the spot in broad daylight, right at the driveway of their own home. It was difficult watching the news on national TV and on the internet the following days. It was a double-murder tragedy. I've seen hundreds of news like this before. But this day was different. This was my brother. This was my nephew.
You and I both know that a tragedy is a tragedy; it is unthinkable, it cut so deep, the shards of glass felt permanently imbedded in the recesses of your heart. You are shaken to the core. You are at your wit's end trying to process what was unthinkable; bad things happen to good people? Such as my own brother who have lived a simple and decent life of service to his constituents. He served the people of Puerto Galera for over two decades as town councilor. He was billed by his colleagues as a "brilliant fiscalizer", a force to reckon with in the konseho, a great influencer, his wisdom sought after. He did not take what wasn't his. My nephew was a kind-hearted young man, full of talents and dreams. I loved him like my own son. He was best buddies with my own two children. They enjoyed playing good music together and with their other cousins, they formed their own band called Pins and Needles; "Pins" is short for pinsan (cousin), while "needles" represent their titos (uncles) and titas (aunts) who are doctors and nurses. They are the ones who are next in line, so to speak. If this happened to us, it could happen to anyone else, too.
You may have experienced the same shattering situation in your own life before or perhaps even worse than this, only God knows, or you may still be in the middle of a different form of trial today. They come in different shapes and sizes. Go ahead. Feel free to fill in the spaces below. What's your kind of trial/s today?
Please remember that there are no wrong answers if you tried to fill in the blanks mentally. They are all legitimate trials, God-wise, because everything about me, about you, is important to Him. And I am not supposed to feel ashamed to expose my weaknesses to an All-knowing God, because when I'm honest with my feelings, when I'm transparent, helpless in the face of adversity, when I choose to put Him where He should be in my life, to be at the CENTER of my orbit, then I give Him honor. And to honor Him is the purpose for why I'm even here in the first place. He is the Only Wise God, Who without a doubt is the One in control of my life.
It's my bread of the day. It's too chunky for my baby-self to ingest. I like breaking it down into chewable pieces. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance; underscoring the four big words; KNOWING, TESTING, FAITH, ENDURANCE, they overshadow words like death, sickness, cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, rape, murder, the unthinkable!
KNOWING is realizing and accepting the fact that trials will always be present here on earth, that troubles are a grim reality, troubles will come, as my daughter reminded me, 'yes, Mom, life is a bed of roses, because the truth is, roses have thorns.' I can't agree with her more. I have to make peace with that; I don't live in a perfect world but I live in a perfectly broken world, where God is still in control and always will be. God is King, He is on the throne and always will be.
TESTING is yet again synonymous with fun words like trials, adversities, troubles, they are all necessary elements for growth and maturity. For this process to take place, come to think of it, there will be breaking and stretching and lifting and shifting, fun words. But my default is to trust in my own understanding, to be self-sufficient, and independent of help. Only to find myself later at the end of the rope, helpless and marred to the bone. Apart from Him I can't accomplish anything. It is literally something out-of-this-world because it is only made possible through God's divine enablement. I may not be always aware of His presence, but it is Him Who makes everything possible for me. What a privilege to be stuck right in the middle of this molding process! As defined in Hebrews 11:1, faith is being sure of what I am hoping for, being certain of the things I cannot see, it is a God-thing. Even the ability to trust in Him comes from Him. He provides by giving me assurance from His scriptures. His scriptures give life as it transforms my limited thought processes from non-believing to believing. No matter how unthinkable a tragedy may hit me, by faith, I have my hope in Him Who had everything planned out for me. I will reap the harvest of endurance.
ENDURANCE plays a significant part in order for me to finish strong in fulfilling my God-given purpose in life. There may be times when my purpose looked bleak for the long haul. And again, my daughter described it well one morning after we buried our loved ones. 'It felt like we're in a snow globe, Mom, we were shaken deep down and you can't see through. But no matter how shaken we have been, things will eventually settle and we will see clearly. Everything will make sense someday why God allows bad things happen to good people.' I must let endurance have its perfect result in me. It is a process. It is time-bound. I will keep pressing forward because that is what endurance is all about, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going; and it gets better and better each day as the Lord Himself provides the strength to endure.
It is amazing to think that as I learn to appreciate every event that comes my way, both good and bad, I become more like Him! What a privilege, what a way to become like Him when I experience suffering! No wonder there is such a place called Via Dolorosa, Latin for Way of Suffering just as Jesus did on the cross more than two thousand years ago, this was the path that He took, how He suffered to the point of death on the cross of Calvary because of His love for me. He showed me how to become like Him. Be like Him. Too much to comprehend, because when I say "I love You, Lord" that means I will follow Him, I become a follower, I become like Him, and His way is the way of suffering. It is through suffering that my own heart is transformed to be like HIM. What a privilege to be like Him when I experience suffering! Meanwhile, because of His loving-kindness, He provides a way for me to be transformed to be more like Him. He imparts His own character in me as I learn to trust HIM for everything through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I remain faithful and hopeful, and joyfully ENDURE slash PERSEVERE. Let perseverance finish its work is to be on the same page with God as I let Him strengthen me in my weakness because when I stay put and let God be God, I am transformed from a Me-centered person to a God-centered person. I become more and more like Him each day so that I may be mature and complete not lacking anything.
Note: All photos from Tabinay Beach were taken by Bethany A. De Chavez😃
Note: All photos from Tabinay Beach were taken by Bethany A. De Chavez😃