Celebrate the Reason Behind Your Trials
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
~ Acts 5:41 (NIV)
James pictures these disenfranchised Israelites as “falling into” trials. The phrase “falling into” might be better translated “encountering.” It is the same term used in the story of the good Samaritan of the man who “fell among thieves.”
By the use of these words, it is obvious that the suffering believers were not overtaken by some sinful activity or temptation. Rather, they were being exploited and slandered and litigated by the rich. God was allowing these experiences to strengthen and mature their faith.
For the Jews, the trials were packaged as persecution. For us today, they could be any number of things: the loss of a job, a divorce, trouble with our children, severe financial strain, illness or death in the family, or relational problems over which we have little control.
It would be easy for us to reason that since we are not experiencing any difficulty at this time, such teaching on trials is not applicable to us. But please note that James does not say if you encounter trials, but when you encounter trials.
And when these inevitable trials come, our first strategy, according to James, is to consider it all joy.
To consider it all joy in the midst of our trials is to respond with a deliberate, intelligent appraisal of our situation. We must learn to look at the experience from God’s perspective and recognize the trial not as a happy experience in itself but as a means of producing something very valuable in life.
Philip Yancey helps us to understand this often-misunderstood concept:
“’Rejoicing in suffering’ does not mean Christians should act happy about tragedy and pain when they feel like crying. Such a view distorts honesty and true expression of feelings. Christianity is not phony. The Bible’s spotlight is on the end result, the use God can make of suffering in our lives. Before He can produce that result, however, He first needs our commitment of trust in Him, and the process of giving Him that commitment can be described as rejoicing.”As you live in the present consider the future, think forward to the future. Gloom now, but glory in the days to come.
Lord, you are Holy above all others, and all of the strength that I need is in your hands. I am not asking, Lord, that you take this trial away. Instead, I simply ask that Your will be done in my life. Whatever that means, that is what I want. But I admit that it's hard, Lord. Sometimes I feel like I can't go on. The pain and the fear are too much for me, and I know that I don't have the strength on my own to get through this. I know that I can come to you, Jesus, and that you will hear my prayer. I know that it is not your intent to bring me to this point just to leave me in the wilderness alone. Please, Lord, give me the strength that I need to face today. I don't have to worry about tomorrow. If you just give me the strength that I need today that is all I need. Keep me from sinning during this trial. Instead, help me to keep my eyes on you. You are the Holy Lord, and all of my hope rests in you. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.In Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Taken from bestselling author David Jeremiah's book What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do. Copyright 2015 by David C Cook; all rights reserved.
God allows trials to strengthen and mature our faith.