How do Christians deal with trials?
There is an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” In many ways I love this saying because the saying does call us to perseverance and hard work. For many people they face many challenges each day and are able to “put on their game face” and meet those challenges with determination and hard work. However, how should one handle the times when life seems to be crumbling around, the light can not be seen at the end of the tunnel, and it seems that all hope of returning to life as normal is gone.
What we read in James
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.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
(James 5:11 ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)
Personally I used to cringe at these verses. How can one consider it all joy when they have just buried a loved one or experienced some sort of deep pain? Is James being real here? Should we just put on a happy face and move on? Space won’t allow for me to go deep into these answers but I do want to say a few things that I believe are helpful.
In James 1:2 the word “count” could also be translated as consider, regard, or to think. Notice it does not say that we will have an emotional response of joy. This is an act of trust in the character of God that in our trials we “count it all joy.” The act of trusting in God’s character must be a purposeful decision.
We must know our God
A part of this knowledge of God must be an experiential knowledge of His goodness. In our lives we must have storehouses of times that we can look back on and see the goodness of God in our lives. Where we are able to see how He has pulled us through difficult times or blessed us in ways that were far beyond our expectations.
The cross of Jesus
Ultimately we must look to the goodness of God displayed in the cross of Jesus. It was at the cross where God puts on display His great love for His people, as the penalty for our sin was paid for by our Saviour. This is our foundation as we go through “trials of various kinds.” As we look back to the cross we can look forward, with confidence, knowing that God is good and that He is more than able to have all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.
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