I sat in the restaurant bathroom, rocking back and forth, repeating the words over and over. Tears streamed down my face and I gulped back sobs as I spoke, “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”.
I’d started memorizing the book of James a few weeks ago, never guessing I would need it so soon.
Back at our table in the restaurant, sat my boyfriend of the last year and a half. It was our first date since he’d moved away and it was supposed to be a wonderful night of wine and sushi and good conversation. It was anything but.
The sushi tasted too fishy, the wine too dry and the conversation, forced.
I knew it was over.
I knew it from the moment I took that first bit of sushi, but everything within me fought it. I’d given him so much. What would happen if it really ended this time? Would I get those things back? Could I ever recover all the hours, the memories, the heart I’d invested into him and this relationship?
Things had be rough from the start. But being the stubborn girl I am, I refused to admit defeat.
He was the first guy to say he loved me.
The first one I’d held hands with.
The first one I’d kissed.
If it ended, I’d never get those precious things back. If it ended, I may never find them with someone else. Who could love me now?
So I sat there, rocking and crying, trying to speak truth to my broken spirit.
“Consider it pure joy…”
It seemed an impossible task.
How could I consider it pure joy that my heart was about to be broken?
That at the end of this horrible meal, he’d hand me the bill and tell me to pay.
That later that night he’d kiss me one more time, watch me drive away and then call to say it was over.
How could I consider it pure joy that I’d cry for the next 6 months, trying to get over the last year and half. And that when I’d finally start to find hope and move on, he’d show up again and say he’d made a mistake.
That it would go on for another year before finally ending for good and leaving me more of a mess than I’d been that day in the restaurant bathroom.
“Consider it pure joy…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.” (James 1:2-4)
Nearly ten years later I know exactly why to consider that night in the restaurant “pure joy”. Because God was rescuing me. He was rescuing me from more heartbreak and pain. He was rescuing me from my own stubborn rebellion of Him. He was rescuing me from believing I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, strong enough.
He was rescuing me to mature me, to complete me.
Our trials are never pointless. They are never a mean joke played by a distant God who doesn’t care. They are there to strengthen us, to grow us, to mature us. And sometimes to save us from our own destructive selves.
I’ve known heartache so that now I can know true, self-sacrificing love.
I’ve known sorrow so that now I can appreciate the fullness of joy.