Check this out – James says that as believers we are to greet every trial as a cause for Joy. “Consider it pure Joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Excuse me? Joy is not my default reaction when life gets hard. I don’t like trials and I’ll bet you don’t either. But the Bible says that we can have Joy because our trials are not without purpose. God has a reason for every trial we face.
James follows up our key verse by saying, “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 1:3-4). We know that we become physically stronger when we work our muscles, and any trainer will tell you that resistance training is the best strengthening exercise. Our faith becomes stronger when we have opportunities to exercise it as we strain against some resistant force – like a trial. How will you know that you can trust God if you never have to? Trials strengthen our faith and lead us into spiritual maturity.
Trials also accomplish God’s wider purposes. Joseph was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and unjustly imprisoned. But all of those very hard things positioned him to be in the right place at the right time – God’s place and God’s time. Joseph was used in Egypt to save thousands of lives during the famine, most importantly the life of his own people – the Jews, through whom our Savior, Jesus, would come. Through some pretty hard trials in our life, God moved us back home positioning us for many good blessings including placing me in a great job with the opportunity to further my education – for free. Trials often become the catalyst for a God-ordained redirection into His good plan.
Our trials prepare us to minister to others. Paul said, “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I have benefited greatly from the wise counsel and comfort of others who have “been there, done that” and survived. Their testimony brought me hope and confidence in God and they gave good advice drawn from their own experience. Perhaps your trial today will give you the wisdom to come alongside someone in a similar situation one day and offer them hope.
This is part one. Part two will post tomorrow.