James 1:1-5 reminds me that in any situation I face, no matter how painful or joyous, there exists a potential to grow as a person. There are lessons to be learned about myself, about relationships, about God. There are character traits like patience, compassion, or setting boundaries that I can develop. James emphasizes a few key areas: times in which we face the limits of our understanding and must seek wisdom for we do not yet have to know the path ahead of us; times of trial and heartache; and times of deep temptation to do the easy thing that brings momentary pleasure but ultimately causes lasting harm.
I know as I meditate on my life I can recall times I faced each of such experiences. Sometimes I fostered awareness and made the better choice. Sometimes I gave into weakness. Yet, looking back, I can see lessons that both paths taught me
One of the greatest lessons is that often God does not give us one, simple cookie cutter answer. Often what God provides are a number of possible paths, some that are clearly wrong, and many which could genuinely be right depending on how you approach them. I more and more am convinced that rather than laying out one set path, God invites us to work together with God to build a bright future in each situation in which both we and God (as well as often others) contribute to the outcome.
I also feel a lesson God is teaching me through such experiences is to realize that though no one can take this journey for me, God never intended me to go it alone. God wants us to reach out to other fellow travelers for insight and support as they can help us both bear the load and find the path, as they too have insights on the journey.
What have your experiences in such moments that have stretched you taught you?