Joy within Trials

James 1:2-4, 12

 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

How does one consider trials a joyous event? 

When one loses their job, or one’s business is forced to close and one faces financial ruin, or a meaningful relationship ends, are Christ-followers supposed to rejoice?

When one’s health is broken, or one is constantly being bullied into submission, or one’s life work is hanging on the balance of being destroyed by outside destructive influences, is one to accept being a victim without hope in the situation changing for the better? 

Why would a good God allow such events occur in our life? Doesn’t HE want us to live a life of comfort and ease? Why would HE want us to temporarily suffer such pain and misfortune?

I am sure we have all asked similar questions as we face the challenges of life each and every day. Yet when one better understands God’s macro purpose for yours and mine life, the quicker one accepts the moment and places trust in HIM to move you through the process for the sake of others, yourself, and HIM.

Most often our initial reaction from such a negative event may cause temporary shock. We are in shock because of the unexpected potential negative consequences on the matter. We may then become angry at God or others for making such a destructive impact with our life at this moment in time. Somewhere in the process we will also grieve of our loss. These are all natural human responses to an ugly situation. Any of these emotional events may last for a few minutes or a few years and are necessary for healing to commence.

But as Christ-followers, during the entire ordeal, our faith in God will be tested. Either we will lean on HIM throughout the entire process, or not. If we do lay our pain at HIS feet, HE will provide us with the internal strength to remain firmly trusting HIM to lead you to work out the situation for the best long-term outcome for all parties involved.

When we continue to lean on HIM, trials will strengthen our faith in HIM. We become participants in HIS handiwork. HE is molding and shaping you and me to maximize our potential as a child of HIS. You may not see it at the moment. You may still be on an emotional roller coaster, but you are also being held in HIS grip.

HIS Spirit full of love, joy, and peace becomes more active and alive within you as you lean on HIM through the ordeal. The joy James writes about is the paradox of being a Christ-follower. Even when you are suffering, HIS joy lives in you and HE cannot stop expressing who HE is even during bad times.

However, if you do not lean on HIM during your trial, then you will feel the immense pain of living life without HIM and without hope for a better future.

As Christ-followers, we know HIS macro-plan is to prepare us for eternity. HE desires us to have the divine character of Jesus Christ fully empowered within us at all times. However, the building of this character takes time to work through the fiery circumstances, plus a willing participation on our part to complete. As we endure in HIS arms, as we firmly abide in HIM, we are being perfected into HIS image. Like the athlete, short-term pain leads to long-term gain.

We may not fully recover in this life what we loss through the trial. But we know God promises us the crown of life for our faithful endurance through our journey in this world.

Yes, we will be blessed for hanging in there to the end. Meanwhile, the short-term pain hurts, the shock and grieving are emotionally draining, and the future looks temporarily hopeless. But as we face our fears, holding unto HIM one step and one day at a time, HE is with us through the entire ordeal. As we are at our weakest moment, HE becomes our strength. HE walks with us and at times may even carry us.

And yes, during our trial everything may seem a blur. But in hindsight, when you review the matter, you will see HIS hand working out circumstances, and bringing people into your world at the proper moment to launch you closer to the end of the trial and the beginning of a new adventure.      

Bottom line: Trials are God’s opportunity to shape us into HIS image and reveal HIMSELF to others. Be steadfast. Lean on HIM. Rejoice in HIS presence. HE will lead you through the ordeal.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

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