September 16, 2014

Today you should read: James 1:1-4

Today’s passage for some is a comfort and an encouragement. For others it is a dreadful passage to read. I want to speak to those who find this passage hard to read because I have met many through counseling that have a hard time with it. The main reason is because they have gone through incredible pain due to sin and suffering in their lives. They have lost a loved one; they have faced or are facing insurmountable circumstances or have experienced hatred and abuse. Whatever the circumstance this verse doesn’t seem to bring joy because they are not finding “joy” or happiness in the circumstance and wish that the trial would go away instead of trying to find the silver lining. If this is you I hope the following points will bring encouragement.

What the passage is NOT saying:

1. You should be happy about your trial:

Sometimes bad things happen that are awful and you should feel sad about it. You shouldn’t enjoy abuse, pain, and suffering. Death was not a part of God’s plan before sin entered the world. It is okay that you don’t feel happy.

2. You are less faithful if you ask why or complain:

We have many examples of faithful people wrestling with trials and asking why.

Psalm 102 is a great example of this. David makes his complaint known to the Lord. However, the correct way to deal with our complaints is with God and not with others. David also reminds himself of who God is in the midst of his groaning. The belief in God and His character is how we find comfort in the midst of our trials.

What the passage IS saying:

1. Trials are opportunities:

Trials test our hearts and reveal to us what we truly hope in. In other words, when we are squeezed then what is true comes out. This refinement leads to mature belief in Christ which we should consider joyful.

2. Trials differ in degree:

James says trials of “various kinds,” meaning trials are not always the suffering kind. There are good stressors as well that will also test your character. How you handle success at work, the type of person you date and how you date, choosing a college or degree, working a job to provide for your family but not necessarily enjoying the job itself, etc. The list can go on and on but you get the point. How your respond to trials tells you something about your faith.

3. Faith in Christ is the ultimate prize:

Having a perfect and complete faith is the goal of the believer. Another way to say this is having your identity in Christ alone. If your goal is anything but this then seeing trials as joyful will be difficult.

Question to ponder:

What have the trials of your life shown you about your faith?

Posted by: Chad Wiles