Today is Memorial Day in the US. For many, it has become more of an excuse for a three day weekend and a kick-off for summer activities. Hopefully, no matter where you are or when you read this, you will pause for a moment to say a prayer of thanks for those who have given so much, sometimes their lives, in order that we might be free.
For me, this is also a day when I remember my mom. My dad died when I was just a few months old, so there aren't any memories to flit through my mind about him. But there are lots of my mom. She was so selfless when it came to my brother and me. She poured herself into our lives in the best possible of ways, and I'm so thankful God chose her for my mother.
Last Wednesday on Write Thinking, I announced my goal of memorizing the Book of James over the summer and invited readers to join me. (I chose James for a number of reasons, as explained in that previous post.) Let me issue the invitation once again.
I also made the decision to use The Voice Bible translation for this endeavor, a new favorite translation of mine. You can learn more about TVB here. (No, it is not a paraphrase. It's a dynamic equivalent translation, as are the NIV and the NLT, for example.)
On Saturday morning, I began by reading chapter one of James and then I concentrated on the opening two paragraphs. Here's how the second paragraph reads (verses 2-5, emphasis mine):
Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line––mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don't have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.
Wow! Don't you love the way that reads? I do.
Having finished reading through those verses a few times, I opened my Streams in the Desert, and this was part of the daily reading (emphasis mine):
Nothing pleases the Lord as much as praise. There is no greater evidence of faith than the virtue of genuine thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough? Are you thanking Him for the countless blessings He has bestowed on you? Are you boldly praising Him even for the trials in your life, which are actually blessings in disguise? And have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come?
Wow again! It felt like that paragraph was written to go with my James verses. Doesn't it?
When we embrace the trials of life with thanksgiving and praise, it changes us. We become mature and complete and wanting in nothing.