Faith June 1, 2016 By
When’s the last time you put a puzzle together? Was it fun?
Some find puzzles enjoyable, and others even relaxing. But that enjoyment often diminishes once we find ourselves with a piece that doesn’t seem to fit. When we can’t detect its place, a challenging puzzle piece seems as if it doesn’t belong. But later on, after we’ve completed the puzzle and observed our work, we find a grand image.
The trials we go through in life are like those seemingly misshapen puzzle pieces. In the heat of the moment, our trials fail to suggest that they “fit” into our lives. But as time goes by and we look back, these at one time heart-wrenching difficulties now fit perfectly into the overall image.
James 1:2–6 tells us, “2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Let’s break that down.
- “consider it all joy” – The bible tells us to evaluate our trials as joy. But why should we? Trails are not fun. Well, we need to make a distinction between joy as an emotion and joy as a quality Christian’s possess.
John MacArthur wrote, “Joy is a happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities.(1) It is a sense of well-being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess.”(2)
Joy is derived from God, meaning He is the source. Therefore joy is not dependent upon our circumstances, emotions, or feelings. Instead, it is drawn from a well that will never run dry.
“The natural human response to trials is not to rejoice; therefore a believer must make a conscious commitment to face them with joy,” added MacArthur.
- “trials” – The Greek word for trials indicates trouble or something that breaks the pattern of comfort, peace, and happiness. The verb form of this word means to “put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. God brings such tests to prove—and increase—the strength and quality of one’s faith and to demonstrate its validity.
- “testing of your faith produces endurance” – Through tests, a Christian learns to withstand the pressures of trials—and even cherish the benefits—until God removes it at His appointed time.(3)
- “that you may be perfect and complete” – The word perfect is not a reference to sinless perfection, but to spiritual maturity. The testing of faith drives believers into deeper communion and greater trust in Christ—qualities that in turn produce a stable, godly, and righteous character.(4) God allows trials in our lives to produce spiritual endurance.
So how do we endure during trials?
- “wisdom” – Our usual reaction to trials is to start planning (putting our faith in ourselves instead of God). Sometimes we don’t realize we need to pray for wisdom from God, but it’s what is needed to let endurance achieve its benefits.
So how should we pray?
We should pray with patience, supplication, and without doubt. For someone who doubts if God really will give him or her wisdom is “like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.” – James 1:6–7
- “ask of God” – God intends to use trials to drive us to greater dependency on Him by showing us our own inadequacies.
But, what if we have turned our backs on God often? What if we haven’t taken His Word seriously? What if we’ve really messed up?
Good news! Wisdom granted by God is not dependent on how well you’ve lived. James says God will give wisdom “generously and without reproach.” That means wisdom is not dependent upon you, but on God’s character, and we know He gives us things we don’t deserve (e.g., salvation).
Trials = endurance = spiritual maturity (5)
God is good. He won’t let us stagnate. He allows trials to come into our lives to better us for His glory.
God is sovereign. He’s on the throne. He’s never surprised by any trial we go through. Satan had to ask God to bring a trial into Job’s life (Job 1:8–12), and God allowed it.
Trials often look like obstacles or hurdles. Naturally, we try to get out of/avoid our toughest times. But it’s through trials that God produces endurance in us. So let endurance have its perfect result.
As trials come your way, I encourage you to take time to reflect on these verses and to remember “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”– Romans 8:28
1 1 Peter 1:8
2 Psalm 16:8–11
3 2 Corinthians 12:7–10
4 1 Peter 5:10
5 Romans 5:3–4