From Bitter to Better (part 2)
After two strange dreams I awoke hearing the voice of the Lord in my heart:
The two dreams are one dream…
He then pointed me to the book of James. Two verses jumped off the page:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2, 5)
A HEAVY “REVY”
I’d read James numerous times before, but this time a fresh revelation hit me like a hurricane:
Dave, you need joy to get you through this trial. Lacking joy? Ask Me for wisdom, and I’ll show you how to rejoice in adverse circumstances.
Here’s your recipe: Trials + Joy = Maturity
The “shower dream” was about a season of cleansing. The “trouble dream” portrayed the confounding incongruity between, a) the joyful environment, and b) my being called out to “testify” about my trouble. Weird.
Suddenly I understood how the two dreams dovetailed! In my time of trouble I complained: Why is this happening?! I’m doing everything right! But in the dream my trouble had transformed into a testimony.
What turns a test into a testimony? A rejoicing heart. Joy is the secret sauce that switches sour circumstances into sweet success. James explains:
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
PURPOSE TO THE PAIN
What a game changer it is to know God can take even the circumstances He didn’t cause and use them for our benefit! We can endure anything when we recognize there’s a purpose to the pain.
God doesn’t expect us to rejoice for our trials; rather, He wants us to praise Him in our trials. (1 Thess. 5:18) Thus, the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15).
GIVING ANGER AN ALIAS
The two dreams identified the bitterness in my heart. I had given my anger an alias. I’m not angry! I’m just “disappointed” or ”sad” or “frustrated.” I needed to call the problem by its true name and jump into a heavenly shower to wash away the grimy gall of bitterness.
In Psalm 73, the writer Asaph ruefully recounts the apparent advantages attained by sinners, while he a righteous man, suffers. After owning his embitterment the psalmist sharply pivots with the words, Till I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood…(v. 17).
Replacing complaining with rejoicing, I gained a hope-filled point of view. In 2000 I’d kissed Indiana goodbye, not wishing to ever return. But upon moving back in 2002, I felt like kissing the Hoosier soil! What changed? Not Indiana. My perspective.
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you. It’s up to us whether we become bitter—or better!
Can you relate to my story? Please comment below!