(I’ve invited friends to share their own stories of endurance or the stories of others. My prayer is that you would be inspired and encouraged as you read each guest post. Learn more about my new book: Sacred Endurance.)
By Jennifer Lucy Tyler
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials.” (James 1:2 csb)
These words by James the brother of Jesus have always been difficult for me to hear. Have you noticed that when you are undergoing a trial the last thing you may want to do is to consider it a great joy?
There are so many things that we may be tempted to do during a trial. We may want to interrogate God: “Why is this happening to me?” We may want to cower in fear because you don’t truly know how things will work out. We may want to stop praying altogether because of overwhelming doubt. Or sometimes we may sulk and allow yourself to be overcome with anxiety, dwelling on all the worst-case scenarios.
Can you relate? Let me be the first to tell you that instead of rejoicing in suffering, I have done all these things and more. I would read about how the disciples endured suffering and hardship and just not understand how they did it. Until I realized that I was attempting to endure in my own strength. . . .
In the past two years, I’ve experienced a lot of transition. As an entrepreneur I decided to walk away from a particular income stream. Although I had peace with the decision and the support of my husband, that decision affected our family greatly. I also lost my father and my grandmother, all within a year. My relationships with these family members were very close, so I found myself experiencing overwhelming grief and sadness. There are still days where the grief hits in waves and I simply cannot contain the tears. Experiencing the grief that comes with death in this world and then having bills pile up due to a loss of income has been difficult to endure.
So what am I learning about endurance in the process of grief and transition?
I have learned the beauty of the Holy Spirit being the Comforter who “comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4). That comfort is received through prayer and confession during those waves of grief. It is in those moments of prayer that I receive the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” and which guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
I have learned that the Lord gives His children the strength to endure through the encouragement of the Scriptures:
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:4-6)
Simply reading and studying the Scriptures reminds me of the hope we have in Christ as believers. As we seek encouragement through the Scriptures, we are reminded to think of eternity. As we endure we can long for the day when “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Lastly, I have learned the beautiful benefit of having Christian fellowship while walking through various trials. I cannot imagine having to walk through the past two years alone. I am grateful for the family of believers who has been there to pray, encourage, or simply share a meal with my husband and me. It has been a blessing to have sisters and brothers walk alongside us as we endure together. And as much as studying Scripture may help, let’s face it, sometimes we truly can use that encouragement from a friend who knows how to point us to Christ.
When I think of the power of community as we endure, I think of Hebrews 10:23-25:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
As I’ve endured various trials, there has been a temptation to isolate myself. I am so grateful for the church and the overall body of Christ that doesn’t allow us to do life alone. The Lord has a way of using Christian brotherhood and sisterhood to encourage us and to remind us of the sweet hope we have in Jesus, which is everlasting and which gives me the strength to continue to endure.
Jennifer Lucy Tyler is the founder of Soul Circles, an alternative ladies night out centered around equipping women to study the bible inductively. These events occur all over the country in restaurants and coffeehouses. She is also a women’s ministry leader at her local church. Jennifer resides in Maryland and is happily married to her husband Jeffrey Tyler. You can find more information on Jennifer Lucy Tyler at her website: www.jenniferlucytyler.com.
Unless otherwise marked, scriptures quoted in this post are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Scripture quotation marked csb is from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.