James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James’ focus on trials stands in stark contrast to our feelings about trials today, mostly because we focus on the process instead of the product. This passage teaches us that trials should be viewed as a friend not a foe because trials work for our good and God’s glory. These verses are actually some of the most enlightening and encouraging words in the Bible for those that are experiencing trials in their life. James reminds us of several truths concerning trials.
- They are certain: James says when not if! As we journey through life we should expect trials that test our faith.
- There are many kinds: God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.
- The trials of our pilgrimage are passing pains designed to purify.
The Christian life is filled with the ministry not misery of trials and these times of heaviness can be purifying experiences. Trials are preparing experiences if we properly respond to God’s purposes for the trials. Job knew this when he said in Job 23:10: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” The enduring of the trial makes you what you are, unfortunately today we are more interested in convenience and comfort that conforming to Christ. You constantly hear people say that they hope their children don’t have to experience the hardships they went through. Yet hardships made us what we are, every trial that finds its way into our life comes with intentional purpose, it takes the trial of faith to mature us. Trials are the very soil in which we grow, but our constant desire for comfort has left us in the shallow sandy soil.
James reminds us that these trials are many but I want to look at three we can expect, because to know and recognize these will help us to respond and come out refined. These are the trials of the:
There will be trials that are the results of our mountain-top experiences, the monumental and magnificent trials, those times of great successes. It takes special grace for those days because we tend to grow proud and drunken with the wine of our victories. In II Chronicles 26:15-16 we see this story played out in the life of Uzziah: “15 In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. 16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” We often overlook the trial of prosperity, when we are permitted success, when we increase in wealth or fame, what a trial of faith is hidden away in this condition. When people experience God’s blessings you never hear one request that the church pray for them that they might be preserved. I believe that adversity has slain its thousands but prosperity has slain its ten-thousands.
These are the trials of the daily grind of life that require reserves of great grace for the weeks and months when nothing much happens and life stinks and sinks into a routine. It takes grace to remain faithful in the humdrum, in the trials of the same old same old. Monotony mows down more Christians than persecution yet it is the trial that test us as to whether we will just stay faithful.
These are the trials that just don’t make sense, where we struggle to comprehend, the trials that sap our hope leaving us wondering why it happened. These are trials when nothing works out according to all our little plans, where instead of a storybook ending, all crashes in on us in an unexplainable confusion. Where it seems like God has forgotten us and we can’t find Him anywhere. Job experienced this time of trial, it was more than just mysterious, it was unfathomable. Not only could he not understand what was going on but it baffled his wife and all of his friends.
There are many more trials and these are just a few all of which Paul experienced, he had the heaven exaltation, the daily care of the churches, and the thorn in the flesh to try him. Today we spend too much time focused on the source of our suffering instead of the point. So what is the point to suffering, suffering makes you Mature. God’s plan is to ripen you, to bring you to a full maturity so that you bear fruit. What if suffering was really designed to satisfy? We see suffering as stripping us of what we need but in reality it leaves us lacking nothing. In our independent rely of self-society we see lacking nothing as a “grab and get” proposition not a “give and let go” one. Are you in a trial today; is there something that God has chosen for you to go through? How will you choose to go through it? Adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with. There is both a reason and a need for your trial. You can respond or reject, you can become better or bitter. Today will you choose to embrace what God desires to refine and define you for eternity?