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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:1-4

This week’s devotional is brought to us by Ms. Baylee Smith, a senior at the McLane College of Business. 

Two years ago, my uncle lost a two-year fight with cancer. We knew it was inevitable, but that knowledge didn’t make his passing any easier for our family.

Shortly after he died, a woman reached out to us claiming to be his long-lost daughter. After some investigation and communication, we learned that it was true! My uncle had a child he never even knew about. This discovery added even more sadness to a season that was already painful.

Thankfully, most people don’t face this particular story of loss. But all of us have trials in our lives. Even just as people working in the world, we face trials like termination, furlough, layoffs, on-the-job injuries, or just harsh criticisms that can leave us feeling defeated and produce emotional scars.

Saint James warned us we might face trials. Those trials can take all manner of forms. But, at the same time, James encouraged us to rejoice in the gifts the Lord may give us through those trials. They can build perseverance in us, make us mature, and fill up our spiritual tool bags until we are “not lacking anything”.

So what do we do with those mournful experiences?

The pain of our trials is real. But if we approach them with faith, we can receive great gifts even in the middle of them. We can gain the promised perseverance, confidence in our faith, maturity, and, sometimes, new people to love.

I am still mourning the loss of my uncle. But what was once an experience almost too painful to speak about has become a point of praise in my life. I learned I had a cousin and she has become a tremendous blessing for our family. Although she never met him, she has many of my uncle’s attributes that remind us of him fondly and unexpectedly.

Not all of the gifts of our trials are as tangible as my “new” cousin. But God has something for us in the midst of these trials, and they can help transform us into the very image of Christ.