“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4
- Our intellectual knowledge frequently outstrips our experience. In a good way, it has to. But deep learning, the biblical growth of our faith, does not take place just when we have intellectual knowledge. Real growth takes place when we actively believe our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father for all he is and all he promises, and out of that context of faith, new obedience emerges and our character is changed. Trials are the means God uses to work that growth in us.
- Persevering in the midst of trial is the normal means of growth for God’s people from Genesis to Revelation. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the people of Israel – read Deuteronomy 8:1-5; every man, woman and child will face trials in this life. Persevering through trial is how Jesus Christ himself matured and learned obedience. He is the Captain of our salvation and we follow him. Luke 3; Hebrews 2:10-11, Hebrews 2:14-18 ; Hebrews 4:4-5:10 In fact, what we really see is that the Spirit will intentionally lead us into trial.
- We have the freedom to embrace trials because our faith is strong enough (that is the nature of the faith God has given us). The fear that the trial will destroy us, and even destroy our faith, is part of the lie that Satan wants us to buy into. God says your faith is a gift from Him, and it is able to endure, and all the trials will do is refine it 1Peter 1:3-9
- When we persevere and see God deliver and discover that our faith will not fail, that in turn gives us a great hope. That hope will not be disappointed, because we know God’s love is faithful and real. Romans 5:1-5
- The freedom to endure the trial also comes from the “rest” God provides us right in the middle of the trial. This is Paul’s statement in 2Corinthians 4:16. This is where renewal takes place cf. 1Peter 1; Hebrews 4:1-13
- Recognizing that trial is the way to maturity, and not a roadblock, means we don’t worry about looking for the quick fix. You must take the approach of being willing to stay in the trial until you see God accomplish his purpose. Perseverance means the presence of pain is not necessarily the signal it is a time for you to quit; it is often the time you are about to become the most teachable. Hebrews 12:7-11 It also means we do not try and remove the trials for other people: the great goal in life is not to produce a trial free environment: it is to see people’s character shaped and molded by God.
- What make up these trials? James says it: all kinds of things. The stupid, sinful, rebellious things people do, as well as the incredibly evil, destructive things people do, as well as all the “natural” problems of living in a fallen world – sickness, disease, etc. , as well as the great spiritual oppression and opposition Satan brings against us.
- We want to be a church that gladly embraces these trials and does not shy away from them as being part of the very necessary ingredient to maturity.
That doesn’t mean trial is all there is to life, and there is no rest. There is rest. But trial and suffering, because we love our neighbor, is in fact an ongoing part. The “rest” comes right in the middle of it:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:5-8
- God is after shaping your character. He is committed to teaching you to believe Him, to know his love and obey Him in new and deeper ways. The heart of God’s wisdom for us is in the midst of trials includes teaching us where and how he wants to change us; greater wisdom on how to love others and how to love God, instead of loving self. Philippians 3:7-11
- We need to know that “wisdom” is ours as a free gift. God grants us wisdom freely, without finding fault. Many of the trials we experience are of our own doing, and even the ones that aren’t end up with a significant element of our own sin in the mix. The good news is when you go to God to ask for wisdom, he does not measure it out according to your sinlessness; he doesn’t hold your sin against you. You are His son/daughter, who is loved and completely righteous in his sight and He is glad you have come and will generously give you what you need.
- In order to gain and benefit from God’s wisdom, you must have a humble heart of faith. Genuine faith does not require the total absence of any shadow of doubt. Faith actually exists “over against” doubt. However, you can’t feed, nurture and buy into your doubt. If you give yourself over to doubt you won’t get the wisdom you need, because you won’t be listening to God; you will be listening to your circumstances and the self-justifying character of your sin nature. Believing God to give you wisdom means you humble your heart to listen. Humbling involves quieting; it involves turning away from the noise of unbelief and pride and sense of injustice. God’s first message is for you to be still, so he can speak and you can truly listen.
- Believing also means you acknowledge God’s Word as true. Even if you don’t understand how it works, how it applies, how it fits. You must start with the premise that His Word is true and that he will over the course of time teach you how it applies through the work of the Spirit in your heart and mind. The final affirmation of its trustworthiness is Jesus Christ Himself who loved you, died for you, and lives for you