How are you called to face trials in your walk with Christ?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).
I need to fess up. I prefer to skip that verse. There is a part of me that fears that if I let God's Truth about trials really marinate in my heart that an avalanche of trials will begin in my life. In addition to fearing imaginary trials, I also squirm when faced with the fact God calls me to react to my current trials with pure joy.
Pure joy? Really?
I tend to react with the opposite of pure joy. I whine. I complain. I bargain. I beg. I bail. I resent. I react. I manipulate.
Can you relate?
But James reminded me of my motivation to respond as God has called me to. I want to be mature and complete. I want to be perfect-lacking nothing (vs. 4).
I want that for you too.
But how do we do it? How do we practically respond with joy when we are in the fire of suffering?
James offered a suggestion for a practical exercise we can all do to choose truth in this area. I want to ask you to do it with me. James encouraged each of us to write down three questions when faced with a trial:
Question #1: What's happening?
Go ahead. Write it down. What exactly are you facing? Get it clear.
Question #2: Why am I here?
This is more of a stumper. Do you know that part? Once you're saved, do you ever wonder "why am I still here?" The answer is that you are still here so that you can display the superiority of a life lived in Christ.
Look around you. Your neighbors who don't know Christ are struggling too. But they are struggling without hope, without the Great Redeemer! After identifying what you are going through take note that trials are what put the pressure on us so that God's goodness can come out through us.
James put it this way, “When a trial comes along you get to say ‘Whoo hoo! This is my chance. I get to show how awesome God is!'"
Question #3: How will this trial advance that purpose?
This is where you take some time to dream, to pray, and to imagine how God is going to intervene in the face of your trial.
What's the point of asking these three questions? To turn our heart away from our pain and anxiety and toward God's ability to redeem it.
What trial are you facing right now? You have a choice. You can wallow, or wail, or complain, or fold or you can ask the three questions that each point to one answer-Jesus. Only He is able to redeem what you're under and reshape it into... pure joy.