"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds...." James 1:2
If you are like most people, from time to time you find yourself in difficult trials. Those unwelcome moments of life you and I wish we could escape. In fact, that may describe your life today!
When these trials come, how do you respond? How do you respond when the hurt is real? How do you respond when you feel that the walls are closing in? How do you respond when things happen totally outside of your control? How do you respond?
Allow me to offer some sound biblical direction…and some words of encouragement. I want to show you how those trials can in fact be a tremendous blessing in your life.
The Right Perspective
Seeing life's trials as a blessing starts with having the right perspective. God's perspective.
That perspective is this: God allows trials in your life to help you grow up...to mature you in Him. In other words, you will never grow in your walk with Christ without trials. God uses them to be your teacher and to make you into the person He wants you to be.
If there was one person who knew trials it was the Apostle Paul. Can you imagine what it must have been like when he was shipwrecked for days? Here he was seeking to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the uttermost parts of the world, and yet he was shipwrecked and in the water for days.
Why didn't God stop the shipwreck? He could have, but why didn't He?
Because, if He had, Paul would have never become the man and leader God intended! Paul became the great man of God by experiencing these trials and testing. Ultimately, God knew (and knows!) what He’s doing.
Now here's the lesson for you and me. You and I must trust God! He knows what He's doing with your life and mine. The sovereign God knows what is necessary for us to experience in our lives and how much to permit in order to mature us.
It really is amazing that the moment we fall into a trial that is out of our own control we begin to beg God, "God get me out of this! God what's wrong? God if you'll just take this problem, Lord, I'll be fine!"
What we never stop to consider is what God might be doing...trying to change you and me, not the circumstances! He may (and He will) change the circumstances, but meanwhile He wants to teach you and me a lesson. And you'll miss out on the blessing by constantly begging Him to change the circumstance and not giving Him a chance to speak to us!
So what is our responsibility in the process of trial and testing? James tells us in James 1:4 that "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
How do you do that? James 1:4-12 gives us a pretty clear direction.
1. Don't rebel against your circumstances. Allow the testing process to be brought to completion so that you may receive the maximum benefit of God's teaching.
2. Ask for wisdom. I want to tell you, believer, you have a secret code to a safe that is full of tremendous resources. And the resources go totally unused by so many Christians. That "safe" is God's wisdom.
God's wisdom is perhaps the greatest tool for your spiritual growth! God's wisdom is the defogger for our fuzzy lenses. And when you ask the Lord for wisdom...when you pray for wisdom...you are opening yourself up to learn about God's overall purpose and plan. You are beginning to see God's big picture!
3. Rejoice in the midst of your trials. James 1:12 tells us we can truly rejoice in the midst of trials. Why? Because the victories are already won! Our victories are in Jesus and He already won the victory. That's why you and I can claim the victory. Regardless of your circumstances, you already have the victory. The battle is won!
Friend, I don't know what trial you may be going through today, but I want to challenge you to embrace it as God's design to bring you to full maturity in Him. Thank Him today what He is doing in your life, and for the blessing of your trial!