Not all gifts are good. Anyone who has ever left a White Elephant gift exchange with a roll of ‘novelty’ toilet paper can attest to this!

However, James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

This was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus, martyred for his faith because he refused to denounce Christ as Savior. Those who stoned James were members of the religious ruling class known as the Sanhedrin. Many of whom were wealthy and well connected politically.

Wealth and relative ease can seem like fantastic gifts from God, and sometimes they are. However, they can also be stumbling blocks as they were for the Sanhedrin, whose power and riches hardened their hearts against Jesus, the only One who could actually save them.

Believe it or not, there are times when struggles and scarcity are actually a gift from God designed to teach us perseverance:   “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” (James 1: 2-3).

James goes on to say that perseverance develops maturity and completeness in Christ (v. 4). He warns that the rich should be humble because their life is short and they will “fade away even while going about their business” (vv. 10-11).

This is not to say that wealth itself is bad or wrong. God often desires to give us these types of gifts too. We should enjoy them, but know that hardships, lack, and difficulties are not necessarily punishments. Often times trials are gifts from God. They test our faith and loyalty toward Him, and He will reward us for enduring.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (v. 12).

Every ‘gift’ that comes our way in this life is preparing us in one way or another for the life to come.  Allow your trials to strengthen your faith and you will be blessed.

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