Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)
I am an optimist. My favorite childhood story was The Little Engine That Could, the story of the train that climbed the mountain saying, "I think I can, I think I can..."
This mantra characterized my life, and certainly my business career. I wanted to work on the rusty old brands that had lost relevance to their customers. I wanted to inherit a poorly performing team and turn it around. I wanted to be given the impossible goal that had stymied prior leaders. Bring it on.
Then came the trials. While serving as one of the pastors of a large church, God saw fit to test me. First, our 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery and radiation treatments.
Simultaneously, I left pastoring and went to work in the secual world. While I have found that I can better minister in the marketplace than from the pulpit, it was tough. It was like being in the ring facing a world-class boxer with no training on how to avoid the opponent. I took the hits hard, first on the left cheek, then on the right, then in the gut. I was stunned. I couldn't steady myself. I thought I would go careening into the ropes.
What was wrong with my perspective? Simply this: I did not expect the trials. I thought I was immune to them. My optimism - a strength in many settings - was now my greatest weakness.
The Bible says unequivocally that we will face trials of many kinds. These trials are the intentional plan of God for the refinement of our faith. Trials are God's way of enrolling us in His character-building program.
Today, I am deeply grateful for these trials in my life. I have been refined by fire - fire that humbled me and caused me to once again surrender everything to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was God's perfect plan to make me a better witness for Him in the world.
As it is eloquently stated in John 9:3, "...this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in [my] life." To God be the glory.
Michael Carter, Realtor Greenville, SC www.beachboyrealestate.com