Joy in the Trials
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him..
Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.” James 1:2-5, 12-13
Hmm.. Consider it a great joy whenever you experience various trials..
Who faces a trial with joy?
This weekend a mentor of mine for over four years.. basically my whole stretch of ministry unexpectedly went to be with Jesus. It’s hard to say that I consider it a great joy to experience this trial. Because truly, I don’t. (I will write more about this later.)
But God has been faithful to show me already what He can do through this trial. Several weeks ago I was asked to speak to our student ministry tonight on James 1:2-13. Trials. God knew, but little did I know what this message would be following after.
So as I have spent these last several days praying, crying out to God, worshipping and driving some things have come to mind about trials and I wanted to share with you what I spoke about tonight..
1. We will have trials. (v. 2a)
This verse doesn’t say if you face trials or maybe if you face them you should maybe have joy.. it says whenever. Whenever means you will have them, what are you going to do with it when it comes and the Bible tells us right here we are going to face it with joy.
I have lost count of how many funerals I have gone to in the last 10 years for so many family and friends. Not one death has gone without impacting my life or my ministry. These trials James speaks of is not just the persecution they were facing or the split of Jerusalem, it was trials of various kinds. I have had many trials in my life.
We have all had many trials in life.. various trials. And trials look different for each person and every life. But the fact is that we will have trials, whatever they are and whenever they come.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
We can face these trials with joy and hope knowing Jesus has already conquered the world, death and every evil thing.
James 1:12-13 says.. Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”
2. God doesn’t cause trials, He uses them. (v. 12-13)
“God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”
Jesus suffered in this world, we will suffer in this world. But that doesn’t mean God caused it. Last year our student ministry did a series called “Dangerous Prayers” and I was asked to speak about praying “Break Me.”
I said “I truly believe God doesn’t want us broken. If God knew I would be where I am, closer to Him and on the path He had for me without being broken, then He wouldn’t have allowed it..”
Sometimes a doctor has to break a bone again for it to heal correctly.
“As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3
God isn’t going to cause a trial in our life, but we live in a fallen world.. people are going to die, someone is going to say something to you that hurts your feelings, people will lose their jobs, bad things happen because we live in a world with free will where sin entered in and changed God’s plan for us.
But through the inevitable trials in our lives, when we allow God to be Lord of our life, He will never let a trial go unused, He’ll never let our life go unchanged, He will never let a tear be wasted. We can live through this trial with joy knowing our God will use it for His Glory and our growth.
James 1:2 goes onto say ..the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
3. God is faithful in our trials by using it to make us better.
“God is faithful. No matter the cause of your changed world, you can survive with God’s help. He can use any circumstance, any loss, any challenge to take you to a new purpose and place. In the midst of the challenge, your hurt and pain make it difficult to see what is on the other side of your present circumstances. But He is faithful. With Him, you can survive.” – Dr. Deb
I read an article on Desiring God today “Lord, Keep Me Desperate..”
It talked about David and how when he experienced trials- when his life was sought out to be ended- he clung to God. He cried out to God for help. But we also see when David was the unrivaled king and he had been shown prosperity in every way He strayed from God where we see he went to bed with Bathsheba.
I loved this part..
The same is true of us. When are we most prayerful and faithful? When we keenly feel our desperation for God, like we can’t live without him. And we are most vulnerable to sin when we don’t feel that way.
We don’t romanticize affliction, just like we don’t romanticize death. Evils themselves are not to be loved, but resisted. God is to be loved and trusted. Only He is wise and strong enough to work for good what is meant for evil (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). Paul pled with God for his thorn to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8), and so did David (Psalm 7:1–2). They were good prayers. God simply had something better in store for Paul and David and us by letting the thorns remain, and supplying his sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
What was the better thing he had in store? Desperation for God. Affliction makes us feel our real desperation for God, and we cry out for him. That’s why Paul boasted more in his weaknesses than his strengths. He knew that when he was weak, he was strong — because when he was weak, God was his strength (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
In all our proneness to wander astray from the God we love, we don’t need to ask our loving heavenly Father for affliction. Instead, let us ask him for the merciful gift of desperation, for that is what we really need.
We do not need to be afraid to ask him to make us desperate for him, because our Father loves to give good gifts to us (Luke 11:13). We can trust him to do for us what we need most.
Lacking nothing.. I don’t know about you but I want to be lacking nothing. Like I say often, I am a perfectionist, a do it right and a rule follower. I want to do it perfect or there’s a huge chance I won’t do it. But trials are going to come whether we’re perfect, doing life right or following all the rules because we will always have a long way to go until we are all that God has made us to be. Trials are almost like working out. It’s going to hurt, you’re going to be sore, you’re not going to want to workout.. but what comes because of it? You’re better and you’re in shape.
If you let God, He will use every trial you experience. Faith produces endurance.. endurance helps you run longer, get through more, make it last. When endurance takes that full effect we can be mature and complete.. lacking nothing.
Romans 5:1-5 tells us the same thing.. “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
When we are mature and complete and lacking nothing.. we are completely dependent on God. Not on ourselves, not on the world, not on good times, not on bad times.
Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
1 John 2:17 “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
Heaven and earth.. the world and its desires.. us.. it will all pass away. But we can rely on God to always be there, always get us through and never let us down.
This doesn’t mean trials won’t shake us or our hearts won’t break or we won’t be sad.. but this means we can have joy in our trials knowing that God will use those trials to make us better- mature, complete, lacking nothing.
My heart breaks every time I lose someone dear to me, every time I experience trials of various kinds. But I know my God is still good and He is faithful.
The way we can consider it a great joy whenever we experience various trials is to trust God to be faithful, just as He is in all things. When we trust His Faithfulness, when we are dependent on only Him, when we are desperate for Him.. we will see Him at work in all things joyful and hard.
He’s never failed and He won’t start now.
In Memory of Dr. Deb aka Pearl to many of us
Thank you for loving me and always teaching me. Always picking up the phone in any trial I was going through and being there for me. Through your love and wisdom, I face this trial of losing you with joy knowing that I will only get stronger and I’ll only get closer to our days together again, but next time.. in Heaven. I love you forever!