Last week in his sermon, pastor talked about how when we are doing what the Lord asks of us, we will often face obstacles from the devil trying to prevent God’s work. After the service during fellowship time, Ben experienced this first hand. He had just taken Jayla from her big sister and was holding her while talking with pastor. She took advantage of the opportunity to unload in her diaper. However, most of the “load” cascaded down her daddy’s leg and even onto his shoe. When I found out what happened, I assured him that I was prepared, and I had an extra outfit for Jayla in the van. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t have an extra outfit for him. He was filling in for the normal Sunday school leader and had only a few minutes before he needed to be ready to lead the class. I guess the devil tried to use Jayla’s blowout to create an obstacle, but Ben taught the lesson despite being pooped on.
This is a pretty harmless and humorous (at least I thought so) example of the devil placing obstacles, but the reality is we all experience getting “pooped on” when the devil attempts to get in the way of our work for the Lord. Jesus never promised a trouble-free life when we follow him. We won’t go through life free from messy blowouts. James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Notice that James tells us whenever we face trials, not if. Following Christ is not the guaranteed easy road in life; we will face trials. In fact, by reading the Bible we see evidence that a life devoted to following Christ results in trials. In the Old Testament, one of the most obvious examples is Job. He committed his life to the Lord and the devil tried time and time again to get him to abandon his faith by throwing obstacles at him: the loss of his wealth, his family, his land, his health. Yet, Job was faithful to the Lord. Though Job cried out to God for relief from his suffering, he did not turn from the Lord. In the New Testament, we know that Christ’s disciples suffered persecution. The apostle Paul was imprisoned more than once because of his service to Christ. The Bible is full of examples of servants of the Lord who faced obstacles and, many times, even death.
Also notice that James says there will be trials of many kinds. The devil can try to disrupt God’s work in little ways (being pooped on before teaching Sunday school) or big ways (disease or death of loved ones). When we look at the trials of life no matter how big or small, we can often see the devil behind them trying to prevent the Lord’s work. James tells us that these trials test our faith which produces perseverance.
While it is important to be reminded to persist through such trials, I think the most important part of this verse may be the first words, “Consider it pure joy.” When you think of facing trials, joy is not likely the first emotion that comes to mind. Ben’s face did not show joy when he realized Jayla had pooped all over him. Yet, we should feel joy when we face trials. When the devil is throwing obstacles at us it is because he is trying to interfere with God’s work, which means that we must be doing God’s work, and we should find joy in that. We can also find joy because the trials we experience strengthen our faith and can draw us closer to the Lord.
All of this makes me think about what I’m doing for the Lord. Am I working for him in such a way that the devil sees me as a threat? Does the devil feel the need to throw obstacles at me so that God’s work is prevented? If I’m not experiencing trials, does that mean I’m not working hard enough for the Lord? Is the only evidence of serving the Lord a “big” trial like cancer? Remember that James said trials of many kinds. Like me, when you examine your life, you may not see any major trials. My family is healthy, we are taken care of, and things generally seem to be good. Look more closely, though; in little ways, the devil may be sending trials your way. Everyone gets “pooped on” occasionally. For me, time, or the lack thereof, seems to be a trial. When I resigned from teaching, I thought I’d have more time to write; however, I still find myself struggling to sit down at the computer long enough to publish one post a week. In a strange way, that assures me that God can use this blog for his purpose because it seems that it is a trial to find time to read my Bible and write. If the devil is trying to prevent the work by throwing out obstacles that steal my time from writing, it must be worth preventing. Regularly reading the Bible and writing draws me closer to God, so it only makes sense that the devil is working to prevent that growth. When I consider the struggle to find time to write as a battle against the devil, it gives me a little more motivation to make reading the Bible and writing a priority. I want to fight him so that the Lord may win. I find joy in facing a trial that will produce perseverance and draw me closer to my Lord who has given me all that I have.
So… the laundry still sits unfolded in the basket in the living room, Kemper is attempting to get his own glass of water from the kitchen sink which will likely end in a mess, and the taco meat for supper has not been cooked, but I have taken time to read God’s word, to let it speak to me, and to write about it. I feel like saying, “Take that devil – I can handle being ‘pooped’ on, and I will still serve the Lord.”
Lord, I pray that I am serving you and that you can use me to share your word with others. When the devil attempts to interfere with your work in my life, I pray that you help me to persevere through those trials and draw closer to you. Thank you, Father, for your love.