It was in my second grade classroom, in London, Ontario, where I learned the words. Week by week our teacher, my beloved Miss Kerwin – who often wore the cutest little ballet flats with a lovely little bow – plotted our path towards memory. And we did it. Each morning we stood next to our desks and quoted this passage from the King James.
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
I still remember how the room looked and felt : the walls were a warm peach color, the school had a light musty old-ish smell, my strawberry shortcake lunch box was most likely packed with a ham salad sandwich, the small desk where I sat half-way back in the room on row three and practiced my cursive writing, and of course Miss Kerwin- whom I loved fiercely with my whole 7-year-old little heart (- and not just because she wore the best shoes). All of this I recall – and yet, what stands above it all is this Scripture passage.
At the time I’m not sure I related the Scripture to my situation. New to Canada, new to my neighborhood, new to my church, my school and everything else. It was all a bit of struggle, but I’m not sure I knew it. It just was. And yet – these little verses stuck to me like glue.
I learned, even through the unknowns and the trials of second grade, to enjoy my life in that place, at that time. I can look back now and see how much I grew in that classroom. It was a stretching and changing and becoming. It was all a part of a plan: His plan was taking shape, creating me. So many lessons : how to be patient making new friends, how to trust Him with all the unknowns, how to accept His timing in tough situations, how to respond to unkindness – and those were just the beginning…
Only now, as a 40-something, I look back and can see how many trials have been His grace to me. Here’s what I know for sure: I can not become more like Him without the hardship. Even now with this knowledge, I struggle to count my current trials and trouble as joy. It is human nature, I suppose, to desire comfort above everything else. Maybe that’s why He planned for me to memorize those Scripture verses early on in my life!
The good news? No matter how my heart is capable of responding, He is faithful to continue His work of renewing my heart, drawing me to Himself in each trial. His love for me is greater and stronger than I can fathom. His plan for me to become like Him is more wonderful than I could ever comprehend. This knowledge is a beautiful gift that my heart counts as a true joy.