James 1:2-4 ESV
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Count it All Joy
When we pray for God’s intervention in our life’s situations, he may not answer our prayers exactly in the way we might have expected. And sometimes that is because our thinking is different from his thinking, i.e., sometimes he is rescuing us by not giving us what we ask for.
For example, you may be running late for work, and the traffic is heavy, and so you ask the Lord for the traffic to lighten up so you can get to work soon, but the traffic only gets worse, and so you get delayed. And the date is 9/11/01, and God saved your life because you were late for work.
Or, like we were traveling one time and I was driving, and it was snowing, and my husband reminded me that the bridge ices before the road. But then I got on the bridge and the car spun around and landed in a ditch on the side of the road, but to where my husband could get it out of the ditch.
We got back on the road, and a little bit down the road there was an accident that had happened that looked fatal for some people. I believe God pulled me over into that ditch to save my life that day, and the lives of my family members. I can’t prove it, obviously, but I believe that is what he did.
So, skidding on the ice and landing in the ditch was a trial, especially since the next morning when it was a wind chill factor of 50 degrees below zero, and we were supposed to be someplace early in the morning, after my husband changed one flat tire, he discovered that two of our tires were flat. But they didn’t go flat the whole drive from North Carolina to Northern Ohio.
So, God’s plans were different from our plans. And he worked things out according to his plans and for our good. So, delays or roadblocks that keep us from doing what we think is something good, but not God’s best, while they may be a trial, God is answering our prayers, just not in the way we expected. And he may be sparing us from some kind of harm, too.
James 1:12 ESV
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Assumed Good vs. God’s Best
Some trials are short-lived. Some last a lot longer. And some last a lifetime. Some are minor or mild. Others are much harder. And some are severe. But no matter what the trial is, God is sovereign over our lives. He has all things planned out for us according to his will and purposes.
So, if we are praying for God to work in a particular way, and it isn’t out of the realm of his revealed will for us that he should answer our request, still he may not answer in the specific way we are asking because he knows things we don’t know, and sometimes he is sparing us a greater trial.
If I am praying a particular direction, and I know Scripture supports that prayer, that it is within God’s revealed will, but perhaps I am headed a direction God doesn’t want me to go, or that he knows is not going to be safe for me at this time, then he may not give me what I ask, for he is sparing me something else that might have happened if he had answered me as I had hoped he would. For, he can see the future. We can’t.
So, we should never force the issue. If we don’t get the answer that we expected, then we need to yield to God’s perfect will and to his judgment in the matter. Even if what we wanted to do was a good thing in our way of thinking, it may not be what God wants. So, we just need to let go and let God, and just rest in him that he knows best.
Sometimes God allows these trials in our lives to test our faith, kind of like he did with Job. And this is for our maturity. It is for our spiritual growth. Through such trials our Lord Jesus makes us stronger and bolder in our witness and more determined to follow our Lord in full obedience.
So, we need to pray that we will have the right responses to our trials and that we will not falter, but that we will trust the Lord that he knows best and that he has a plan and a purpose for it all in our lives. We need to trust his judgment and his decisions and not our own.
And then we just need to obey him in wherever he leads us and be willing to not be able to do what we thought would be good if God deems it is not good for us, or not good for us at this specific time. For, again, he could be sparing us from much worse. So, we trust him. And we rest in his wisdom.
In the Hour of Trial
Lyrics by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music by Spencer Lane (1843-1903)
In the hour of trial, Jesus, pray for me,
Lest by base denial, I depart from Thee;
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.
With its witching pleasures, would this vain world charm
Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane
Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.
If with sore affliction, Thou in love chastise,
Pour Thy benediction on the sacrifice.
Then upon Thine altar, freely offered up,
Though the flesh may falter, faith shall drink the cup.
When in dust and ashes, to the grave I sink,
While heaven’s glory flashes o’er the shelving brink,
On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
Lord, receive me, dying, to eternal life.
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