Third Wednesday of Advent: Consider It Joy
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
—James 1:2-6 (Read James 1)
Bounding joyfully through my new apartment, I unpacked boxes and checked tasks off of my to-do list. The excitement was palpable. I was 14 short days away from marrying my best friend!
And after all we’d been through this year, a celebration was exactly what we needed.
This was the year of wisdom teeth surgery, an autoimmune disease diagnosis, a global pandemic, job loss, moving states (again), extreme stress, and loads of anxiety. It was the cat-bite-to-the-thumb year, full of freak accidents and frequent emotional turmoil.
Much of my time this season has been spent processing and healing, so I couldn’t wait to finally be healthy enough to walk down the aisle and begin married life with a great celebration.
While unpacking kitchen items, I spotted a large slow cooker still in its box. Eager to become a domesticated crockpot-using wife, I figured I could get a head start on my Joanna Gaines skills and started unboxing the ceramic monster.
As I carefully lifted the appliance out of the packaging, a dramatic scene unfolded that can only be classified under 2020’s hottest buzzword: unprecedented. In slow motion, the precious dish fell out of its styrofoam home, traveling down (with gravity’s forceful companionship) to collide heavily with the toe of a mortified bride-to-be.
The bellow was followed by a sob, followed by a hobble up the stairs to the bathtub, where I soaked the bloody wound and prayed desperately that the numbness did not indicate a broken bone.
As I sob-prayed, my phone rang. It was my friend Erin.
In no mood to talk, I debated letting the call go to voicemail. But part of me wanted desperately to connect with someone about my recent hurt. Though slightly embarrassed, I answered the phone.
“Can’t talk—crockpot—toe—UGH!” I said through sobs.
Though she must have been caught off guard, Erin spoke calmly on the other end of the line, and offered to call urgent care for me. She communicated with my fiancé, who arrived quickly to drive me there. In no time, we arrived at the nearest medical facility.
Now Erin is no stranger to me, but our connection is rather new. Our friendship kicked off in quarantine and has only grown since. Both of our significant others are close friends, so when they would get together we would connect. We began with small talk, then with shared experiences. Our relationship grew through game nights, socially-distanced bonfires, wedding plans, and a handful of deeper conversations about faith and spirituality.
It was through those conversations that I discovered that Erin wasn’t sure what she believed about God. It was also during these times that I saw her curious and generous heart for people—including me.
As I waited in an empty urgent care room, I prayed for Erin.
I thanked the Lord for this new friendship and that timely phone call. I asked God to help me show her Jesus’ love.
At that very moment, I got a text. It was from Erin.
It wasn’t out of character for her to reach out and offer a caring word or helping hand. But what she said in this text surprised me.
“God wouldn’t hand you these untimely challenges if he didn’t know you could handle it.”
My jaw dropped to the floor. Did she just say God? Was this from the right person?! I checked the name again and read on.
“Your wedding will be phenomenal no matter what, but this needed to happen—don’t know why, we might not ever… but He’s got a reason.”
My eyes welled up with tears.
Here I sat, upset that I inflicted yet another comical injury upon myself, selfishly wondering if a fracture would wreck my wedding day, when Christ abruptly reminded me that these trials are steeped in Godly mystery.
This season, I have undoubtedly been “tossed by the wind.” Attempting to endure every mental, physical, and societal affliction with my own strength, I have neglected to ground myself in wisdom from the One who offers it so freely. If the “testing of my faith” had been going on, I must have failed emphatically.
However, the Spirit of God tends to convict us at just the right time. And in this moment, there was a glimpse of the pure joy that can come when God uses our trials for something greater—like His glory.
I put my phone down and smiled at my throbbing foot.
“Yes, Erin, I think I know the reason God let this happen,” I thought.
As it turned out, no fracture was to be found and—albeit, black and blue—I walked effortlessly down that wedding aisle. But just hours before the ceremony, another holy surprise occurred.
My sweet friend Erin pulled myself and my husband aside, closed her eyes and prayed a prayer that she admitted was the first conversation with Jesus she had had in a long time. Breathing in bravery, she spoke out loud; we all wept. There was nothing else to do. This was a moment of tangible light—the flame in her heart burning a little bit hotter, Hope beaming a little bit brighter.
I don’t know what would've happened if I hadn’t dropped a crockpot on my toe. Would Erin have texted me about the Lord? Would she have initiated prayer with us? Would that spark have laid idle?
We will never know, and I don’t think I want to.
Because this is the lesson of perseverance—suffering is temporary; God’s work endures.
And truthfully, I would take a million more crockpots to the toe if it means that the Light of Christ breaks through.
But for today, I’ll just take the one.
—India Jade McCue works with the CCO's Marketing & Communications Team as Designer. She served as a CCO student leader at Columbus College of Art & Design before coming on staff in 2019.