Trials of Many Kinds
James 1:2-4 NIV
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.
Trials are not easy. They are hard! Life gets really tough at times. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, in fact. Paul described it like this:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 2 Co. 1:8 NIV
So, it isn’t as though, when we go through trials, that we always immediately jump for joy. Sometimes we must first grieve, as we call out to God in our times of difficulty. And, then, as we call on him in prayer, and he encourages and comforts our hearts, we can rejoice because we know God is allowing these troubles to take place for a purpose, and they are ultimately for our good, that we might learn to rely on God and not on ourselves.
Nothing happens to us by happenstance. Our God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has created. And, he will work all things for good for those who love him, who are following him, who are called according to his purpose.
Through our difficulties we grow in our walks of faith. We mature. We learn obedience, as Jesus learned obedience through the things which he suffered. And, we learn perseverance. I definitely know that! Sometimes I just want it to all be over, but it is through these hard times that we learn endurance, and that we are strengthened in our faith, and that God transforms us and he conforms us to his likeness.
Discipline is for our good that we may share in God’s holiness and that it may produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives. Because of the things we go through, we become the people of God that our Lord wants us to be, when we respond to our trials by submitting to his purposes for our lives. Through these trials God is molding us like clay, he is pruning us, he is changing our character, and he is making us more like him.
Wisdom from God
James 1:5-8 NIV
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. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
When we go through difficult times, we will need the wisdom of God to know how to respond to our trials and to our enemies, i.e. to our opposition. Certainly we know that scripture teaches us that we are to love our enemies, that we are to pray for them, do good to them, and that we are to bless and not curse them. But, we need wisdom to know how to implement those truths.
For example, love takes on many different forms. For instance, God loves us, but in that love he also speaks the truth in love to us, and he disciplines us for our good. So, love is not this mushy gushy emotion that just tries to make everyone feel good about themselves. And, love definitely does not lie to people just so that they will like us, and not be cross with us. Love is often tough love which does for others what is truly in their best interest, i.e. what is truly for their good; that which will benefit them and not cause them harm.
So many people get this idea that love and kindness are saying only nice things to people to make them happy, but that is not how God loves us, and it is not how we are to love others, either. Yes, we are to encourage one another, but even encouragement is not just a pat on the back to make others feel good about themselves, but it also entails inspiring, urging, inciting, and persuading people toward what is for their ultimate good.
Jesus and his New Testament apostles spoke the truth to people for their good, even when the truth hurt. They warned people against false teaching and false teachers, and they confronted them in their sins, and called for repentance. And, they refused to bow to the opinions of men or to conform to the ways of this sinful world and the culture around them, and they resisted authority which demanded that they disobey God.
So, this is why we must pray for wisdom to know how to respond, not only to our circumstances, but to our persecutors, for each situation may call for a unique response specific only to that particular circumstance or people.
But, when we pray for wisdom, then we must not doubt God’s counsel to us, i.e. we must not second-guess God. If we want to know what God wants us to do, then we must be willing to do what he says. Yet, we may need clarification of what he is saying, especially since we can’t hear him audibly, and we may want to make certain it is his voice speaking to us, and not some other voice we may be hearing in our heads.
But, we shouldn’t pray for wisdom from above if we are not willing to do what God shows us. For then we are double-minded and unstable, and we will not receive the wisdom we so desire from the Lord.
Persevering Under Trial
James 1:12 NIV
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Not only are there eternal rewards for having stood the test under trial, but there are also many benefits to be gained while we still live here on the face of this earth.
For me, I can truly say that all that I have been through has drawn me close to my Lord. And, even though I have days when I wish it would all just go away, I know that I have benefited greatly from all that God has taken me through. I know that, because of all my trials, I am much more serious about the Word of God and my commitment to my Lord, and about my service to him, too. Through all that I went through, and am still going through, God prepared me and is continuing to equip me for his service.
Through all that God has allowed in my life, he has helped me to see life through his eyes, from his perspective. I can feel what he feels, and see what he sees, though not everything. Yet, through the things I have experienced God has given me his passion for his church and for his truth. Thus, when I write, I can write from my own heart and experiences what I know is in God’s heart, and I am able to express what God feels with passion, because I truly feel it, because I have lived it. So, my trials have, thus, worked good in my life for God’s purposes for my life, so this is good.
So, when you are going through life’s trials, know that God has a purpose for it all, and that he has something he wants to teach you, and for you to experience, because he wants to use it in your life in some way for your good and for the good of others whose lives you touch. So, thank the Lord that he has given you these trials for your good, and praise him.
An Original Work / March 19, 2012
I can do no less than praise You,
Lord, for all You’ve done for me.
You died for my sins to save me,
So I would be set free.
I adore You! Lord, I praise You!
Jesus, Savior, King of kings!
You provided my redemption.
Your grace has pardoned me.
I can do no less than serve You.
Lord, Your witness I would be,
Telling others of Your love,
And why You died on that tree.
Tell of how You gave of Your life,
So from sin we’d be set free,
So we could worship You forever,
And live eternally.
I can do no less than love You,
Lord, for You have first loved me.
You gave of Your life so willing,
Because You cared for me.
Turn from my sin! Obey freely!
Live for You each passing day.
Read Your word, and follow Your lead,
Lord, as I humbly pray.
Friday, March 23, 2018, 6:00 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these words of encouragement today. Bring them home to our hearts, I pray in Jesus’ name.