Many of you are going through a trial right now. If not, just wait. We’re always either coming out of a trial, going into a trial, or in the midst of one. No one has a lifetime of sunny skies.
I’ve been through many tests in life, but in a recent surgery and long recovery, I learned some things I want you to know. One of the most important was learning to endure hardship.
James, half-brother of the Lord Jesus, explains in James 1:2-4:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We all want strength, victory and contentment. No one wants tribulation. But tribulation is exactly what produces in us what we really need—endurance. God allows trials to teach us how to endure (literally, “abide under”), or we won’t develop strength, win victory, find contentment, or build character.
Remember, God tests us so we can develop endurance, but He never tempts us to sin. That’s the devil’s work. We “count it all joy” because through tribulation we’re growing stronger. Testing lets us know God is real in the darkest night. Faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.
Never think the Christian life is all sunlight and roses. Jesus said, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). If you’re going through tribulation, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong. It means the Word of God is true.
Here are five truths I learned through tribulation:
I CAN BE JOYFUL. (v. 2)
Not grin and bear it, but joy in the Lord. An overcoming Christian is a joyful Christian. You can be miserable if you want to, but in the midst of your trial, you can have joy. Paul and Silas in that Philippian jail at midnight sang praises to God.
I WILL GROW AND MATURE. (v. 4)
When have you grown the most? When you had no problems? Or when under stress you learned to endure? Psalm 4:1 says, “…You have relieved me in my distress....”
I WILL GAIN WISDOM. (vs. 6-8)
Through trials we develop wisdom, learning things we couldn’t learn any other way. When Job went through tremendous trials, he asked God “Why?” But in the end, Job stopped asking “why” and started remembering Who—the omniscient, omnipotent God. With rock-like faith, ask God for wisdom, and He will give it.
I WILL LEARN TO REIGN. (v. 12)
In pain and perplexity, I learned I could live as a king in my trial, because James said those who endure will receive the crown of life—not in the future when you get to heaven, but right now. We are to “reign in life” (Romans 5:17). But if you don’t bear the cross, you can’t wear the crown. When trials come, “abide under,” and He will give you the crown of life. God wants you to rule in this life.
I WILL BE LACKING NOTHING. (v. 4)
If you learn to endure, God will bring you to where you will need nothing. I’m not talking about being wealthy. Yes, He will meet your needs. But He says, “Endure! Endure! I will give you the true riches of life.”
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