Have you read the account of Job lately? You can’t help but notice who instigated the argument that brought all of Job’s troubles on him: Satan. Satan had challenged God’s statement that Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil. God said in essence, “Very well, do what you will to him” to show that even through trials and undeserved suffering, Job’s heart (the part God cares most about in all of us) would still trust in Him.
It’s not a coincidence that God preserved this historical account to share with us – future readers who would need to be strengthened and edified through such an example as Job. Read the entire account to hear how God rewarded Job’s faithfulness.
Let’s look at what James says about Trials in our life. I love how he starts his letter, “Greetings” – then Boom! He wastes no time letting his readers, including us, know what is on his mind.
“Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” Pure joy? Pure JOY?? Really James? Yes! But why? Read on – “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Well, what do I need that for? He tells us that too – “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” You may well ask, “What does that do for me? How does perseverance build maturity and what does that look like in real life?”
That’s a great question – to see it in action, let’s take a look at Paul. Here is a man who has suffered trials. He’s been falsely accused and beaten – almost to death. He’s been shipwrecked, left for dead, the target of plots to kill him, bound in chains, among some other difficulties that would have done many of us in long before.
We read his words in Philippians 1:12-14 where he sits bound to a guard, and actively shares his faith with this person who may have felt more like the prisoner than Paul did!
Listen to his words, “Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
Remember what James said about considering it Pure Joy when we face trials of many kinds? Paul displayed this maturity in his life repeatedly, recognizing that our faith will deepen when we see God at work in the hard situations we face. He was able to view the hard place he was in through the lens of maturity and trust, and have steadfast certainty that God was using it in ways no one could deny.
Others were being encouraged to share the truth of the gospel with people as they saw Paul’s mature view of what he faced and endured. He recognized that this life is short – it isn’t worth hanging tightly on to – let’s get on to more important things – like reaching the lost for Christ. His willingness to “learn to be content whatever the circumstances” (4:11) recognizing that he “can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (4:13) was the secret.
A lost and dying world is watching to see if what we say matches up to what we live out.
So that ‘thing’ you’re facing; that heartache or uncertainty; that loss or grief you are bearing – how you respond to it reveals your trust level in the God who allowed it. And not only can it deepen your own faith as you see God intimately involved in carrying you through the trial… but it could also deepen the faith of people around you who you didn’t even know are watching you.
So I will end with the question I started with…What if it’s not only for you?
I love the verses Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by payer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Wow! Rejoice my friend! The Lord is Near!
Are there things you’re facing that are hard? God doesn’t want you walking it alone. He gave us the body of Christ to fellowship with, encourage and help walk this road. There are purposes in His plans…and He loves you.
Let’s talk…you know, between friends.