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Sometimes I say brash things around my Jesus people and ask raw questions in Bible studies just to see how people will react. I suppose I’m ever and always trying to stump them. (To what end? To say ‘I told you so?’ So what if I succeed? What does that leave me?) And I suppose this may be a remnant of my teenager-me relationship with my dad in which he would never let me win at any argument, but I always tried. Hmm…

But I digress. This tendency of mine to be audacious is not my most flattering, although my friends have been kind enough to get used to it and still talk with me. I am very thankful for them.

Anyway, I did it again last night. My Bible study/fellowship/potluck community is still in trek through the book of James and there’s this part about temptations and trials. Mister James says we should not say that God tempts us but that every good and perfect gift comes from God.(I don’t have a Bible with me so my quote is not 100% accurate).

When I read it, questions in my head were the likes of…So, God didn’t give make me sexually oriented the way I am, I picked that one out on my own? What about Pharaoh in the story of Moses where the writer says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart?(As in, God caused Pharaoh to sin). What about the story of Job in which God allows all kind of s— to befall the man?

I suppose, deep down, I wanted to revisit the problem of evil in which, how could a God who is both good and powerful allow evil to exist?

So I posed this question, and not very eloquently, and in fact I believe I was feeling irritated when I asked it.

And…I got an answer!

Didn’t quite expect that, but upon having my question received graciously by wise people, I had my thoughts answered in a way that made sense. This is the way of it.

In the original Greek(omg, I just became a biblical language nerd) You have “Trial”, bad things that happen to make you better, and “Temptations” bad things that happen to destroy you. Now “Trial” and “Temptation” are the same Greek word. The difference depends completely on the intent of the trial/temptation giver. So if Satan is trying to destroy you, the bad thing is a temptation. If God is trying to make you a better person, the exact same bad thing is a trial.

This is going to very quickly start sounding like a cliché little devotional, but I found it meaningful last night so I still want to share it.

Bad things happen, yeah we know, but how we respond to it, and the kind of person we are because of it depends entirely on perspective/belief. The challenge I was given was to re-examine what I really believe about God. Do I believe A, that God is good, B, that God cares, C, that God can make me better through the crises I face? Do I believe that there is a purpose to my pain?

Again, to write these words feels like writing a cliché devotional cop out thought. Feels like a way to cheapen a person’s pain. I do not want to do any of those things. But I have been reminded of just how important perspectives and beliefs are. How I perceive a situation and what you believe about the purpose of a situation has everything to do with what kind of a person I will be at the end of it. This is a challenge I have given that I would like to accept, to be mindful of my perceptions. And I share it with you if you want to read it.

May you be blessed and full of God’s peace and able to overcome your trials and temptations.