Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days Of Strength In Scripture: On Trials And Testing

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” - James 1: 2-4

That's a doozy right there, isn't it? Consider our trials joy??? I don't like that. At all. I can think of many horrors on that 'trials' list that no one in his or her right mind would find very joyous. I think that if we're being honest, we have to admit that this is an uncomfortable verse for us. In fact, the only way I'm able to write about this right now is because I'm not currently facing a hard trial.

But I have before and I can say that I do understand what this verse says about the testing of faith producing endurance. Smaller trials prepare us for the larger ones, but also, the more we exercise our faith, the more natural it becomes to do so. And let's face it – it's not all that difficult to exercise faith when everything is going our way. How often do you hear well-meaning (but not suffering) people toss out phrases like, “it was God's will” or “He doesn't give you more than you can handle”? Sure, it might sound nice when you're on the other side of pain and suffering, but in the throes of it? Sometimes there just isn't a phrase or verse that will ease the hurt. Pain is heavy stuff.

The key is those verses point us to the One who has promised comfort and rest to us, who gives us strength and grace in our weaknesses, and in whom we can trust for the hope and peace that we seek. That's what we have to be joyous about. He never changes, but instead His promises stand no matter how much we waver and struggle, no matter what we're up against.

There are no throwaway moments in life. There is no waiting for the good part – because the present, no matter how good or bad it may be, is still an important part of the good.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” - Romans 5:3-5

He understands suffering because He did so on our behalf. But what happened right after that trial of His? He rejoiced. In fact, there was much rejoicing because He overcame it and every other trial we would ever face. Though we may not feel like rejoicing today, one day all we will know will be joy...and love...and peace. That's the promise that keeps me going, that keeps me from giving up.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you, but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” - 1 Peter 4:12-13