My daughter, Randi Loafman, a third-grade teacher at Wilemon STEAM Academy in Waxahachie, decided to add a fun dimension to her educational program. So, naturally, she borrowed a dozen fertile hen eggs, obtained an incubator, and gave her students a great visual about the hatching of baby chicks and an important component of life.

The baby chicks work extremely hard to crack the shell. It's a painstaking task, but finally, and with a little help from a sibling that was born just hours earlier, the struggling little fowl finally makes her way out. She clumsily waddles about for a few seconds, and then falls over from sheer exhaustion, and sleeps.

God so ordered the experience of struggle for the hatching of baby chicks. Without that struggle, they would die very soon. But with the struggle, they are given strength to carry on.

I am told that squirrels, of necessity, must engage in cracking their own acorns or pecans or whatever food they harvest, in order to survive. Someone once shared how they cracked nuts for their pet squirrel to make life easier for him. But by his missing the important process of cracking his own acorns to keep his tusks honed, they grew to a grotesque proportion -- making it impossible for him to feed himself and survive on his own.

I have had this fantasy of inheriting a large fortune -- and I've always fantasized giving the majority of it to my children and grandchildren so they could have everything their hearts desired, and so they would never have to experience want and need or sacrifice. A great gift to give one's children - right? Wrong! It's the struggle -- the trials -- the difficulties -- the experience of coming to the end of oneself and not knowing where to turn, that gives God the opportunity to intervene and show His grace.

The strongest church is not the one with an enormous bank account, but a church that knows what need and poverty is. The most apostate church in Asia Minor was the wealthy church of Laodicea -- whom Jesus said was "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked." Revelation 3:17.

But the most spiritually rich church was the poverty-stricken Smyrna Church. Jesus said to her, "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich.). . . Revelation 2:9

I would go so far as to say the greatest fulfillment in life comes, not from a lavish lifestyle conferred upon the trust-fund baby -- but from struggle, and learning how to do without - to live on meager means. Could that be what James had in mind when he wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting (or lacking) nothing." James 1:2-4

In short, your joy in life doesn't come by having abundance lavished on you - it comes through trials. Faith will develop in a life that is fraught with trials, struggles, and hardships. The end results will be calm, peaceful patience settling in one's life, along with a great appreciation for the blessings God brings through it.

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Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.