Has anyone ever set a snare for your life?
Shortly after we returned to our village in the remote jungles of Panama after a two-month absence, a young Kuna man came apprehensively, but confidently, to share with us that Aquileo, the town representative to the Panamanian government, was plotting to kill Ralph, my husband! Our isolated village made an escape impossible!
In my traumatized state of mind a verse in Jeremiah raced into my consciousness… Jeremiah was facing his plotting antagonists and said, “But the Lord is with us like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail…” Jer. 20:11 The plan had taken Aquileo two years to put together, and we were being informed that the time had come to carry it out! Would we be disposed of in the river? No one would find us…ever!
This was all a dream…this could not be happening!
My heart was stunned, on the one hand, because this man and his wife had been consistently friendly and then, on the other hand, I was terrorized… I felt betrayed because so many in our Kuna family had known of this plan and no one, until now, had told us. I felt indebted to the young man who had risked his tribal reputation to protect my husband.
When…Where…How would this be carried out?? What should we do?
What could we do?!
Ralph, instantly, reminded me that I should “joyfully” be giving thanks to God that for the two years of planning I had been spared the stress of knowing about this development! He had recently given me a formula, as a reminder, for just this kind of situation. It went like this:
Trials + Acceptance of the Trial with Joy = Maturity
How could this trial possibly be faced and accepted with Joy?
I asked myself these 6 questions:
- Could I trust God’s Sovereign plan? Romans 8:28
- Did I believe God would never give me a trial too big? 1 Cor. 10:13
- Would He give me a way of escape? 1 Cor. 10:13
- Is every trial given with divine purpose and benefit? Rom. 8:18; 11 Cor. 4: 17
- Am I convinced the Holy Spirit will help, comfort and carry me through this trial? Rom. 8: 26
- Do I believe that testing will produce Godly character in me? Job 23: 10
For the formula to work growth and maturity in me
I would have to answer each of these questions with a “YES”!
Ralph’s response was “This is incredulous - Aquileo is my friend!” He immediately stood up and left our house to cross the village and confront his nemesis!
In that talk Aquileo shared a verbal wound that he had received from my husband when we first moved into Pucuro. He felt he had “lost face” among the men in our very tight community. Ralph had no idea that the result of his jesting had caused such pain and immediately humbled his heart and asked forgiveness.
I found that accepting the trial (even this one!) with joy proved to be a life-lesson that has made a permanent imprint to this day, as I face life daily. Accepting not just the formula, but also its applied truth with a joyful and resounding “YES” has changed my life! The struggles continue to come but accepting God’s purpose, provision and control with joy is the quickest path to growth and maturity.
JOY is not the absence of suffering but the presence of the Lord.
C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is never in our power” - it is the fruit of accepting God’s provision in difficult circumstances!
We waited to see what would happen to us. Days passed slowly, the nights were even longer (!), and one bright morning, Aquileo and his family arrived at our front door! I cannot put into words the jubilation I felt as I invited them inside to be with us!
“Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face many trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be
MATURE AND COMPLETE, not lacking anything…!”
James 1: 1-4
Do you find joy in your times of difficulty?
How do you respond to trials?