EARTH: An Opportunity For Joy by Francine Rivers

Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature

From: Earth Psalms

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing  nothing. (James 1:2-4)

We have a lilac bush in our backyard. I planted it ten years ago, and every year I hope to see it filled with clusters of sweet-scented blossoms. Every year I am lucky to find two small clusters on the very top.

My grandparents lived in Colorado and had a lilac hedge that filled with purple blossoms.  Rick’s relatives in Sweden had gorgeous lilac bushes with a profusion of clusters.  Why is my lilac bush such a bust?

I live in California.  The weather is nice all year round.  The sky is blue and the sun shines through my window even in the dead of winter.  The appearance of snow in Sonoma County is so rare it makes us ooh and aah.

Lilacs need cold weather.  Winter snow and ice bring an abundance of spring color and scent.

Hard times often bring out the best in people, too.  Some of the most striking stories of rock-solid faith in God come from enduring serious illness, job loss, personal struggles, or devastating tragedy.  The worst circumstances brought about the most growth – so much so that often these believers can look back on their hardest moments and remember a strong sense of God’s presence.  That’s because when we’re faced with the unthinkable, when we’re in the valley, we realize how much we need God.  We grab on to him out of desperation, and when we realize he’s really there, our faith begins to grow.

James wrote these surprising words: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”  Why joy?  Because troubles test our faith, which builds endurance.  And endurance helps us blossom into the people God created us to be.

Faith blossoms.  Courage inspires.

Remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity.
(C. H. Spurgeon)


How have you seen God strengthen someone’s faith through their difficult circumstances?  When you look back at tough situations in your past, how do you think they have changed you?  How would you be different if you hadn’t experienced those challenges?


What problems are you facing this week?  Take a minute to consider how these challenges might be strengthening your faith.  Have you sensed God’s presence more strongly?  Do you feel God giving you the ability to endure?  Thank him for the growth you see, and commit to viewing these problems as an opportunity for more growth.


Lord God, it goes against my human nature to view problems as an opportunity for joy and growth.  Yet when I look back at my life and the lives of others, I know it’s true.  Just as some plants bloom more beautifully in spring because they experience cold in the winter, you have made us able to grow in our faith and endurance because of what we experience.  Teach me to approach trouble this way.  I know it will transform me.

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
(Psalm 31:7)

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