What’s your attitude when you encounter various trials in your life? If you’re like me, my natural response is to avoid them. The Apostle James gives us an surprising perspective,
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
James says our response should be to consider the trials of life to be all joy. We must realize that joy is not dependent upon our circumstances, but joy comes from our relationship to God. It’s significant to note that James says “when” not “if” indicating that trials are inevitable.
This passage gives us a fresh perspective as we face various trials as we see that the testing of our faith can produce endurance. The word “endurance” in the Greek New Testament is compound word that literally means to remain under the pressure. We must realize that the roots grow deep when the winds are strong.
James instructs us that endurance makes us “perfect and complete”. The word “perfect” conveys the idea to be brought to its end and needing nothing necessary to completeness. Likewise, the word “complete” emphasizes completeness in all respects. This word is also used by the Apostle Paul as he wrote to the Thessalonians,
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
You must realize that God allows trials in our lives not to impair us, but to improve us. When I understand this truth, it helps me to put my trials into perspective. Paradoxically, the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because small things start to bother you. When I was in the Navy I was taught that smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
The key question is, “What is my perspective regarding the trials I’m facing?” Can I view these trials as instruments that can draw me closer to God, or do I blame God and allow these trials to drive me away from God? In our times of greatest need, one of Satan’s primary strategies is to draw you away from the very resource that can best help you – God. Hudson Taylor emphasizes, “The amount of pressure isn’t the issue, it depends where it lies. Does it drive us away from God, or closer to God.” It is our responsibility to choose how to interpret these trials. It depends, not what these events are, but how we interpret them.
What are the trials that you’re facing? Realize that God can use these challenges to develop perseverance in your life. We discover it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the fact that you carry it alone.
Ad astra, per aspera. (To the stars, through adversity)
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
Follow me on twitter: rickhiggins5