“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
How do you react when you are faced with a trial or a difficult situation? Do you decide to ignore it? Run away? Tackle it head on with dread? For many of us, this would be our normal reaction. However, the apostle James is encouraging us when we face trials to consider it a great joy (James 1:2). For many of us, this may seem like a nearly herculean task. Is it even possible to view trials in a positive light?
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes that as Christians, God works all things and circumstances for our own good (Romans 8:28). Because of this we can trust and have assurance that during any trials we face, God is in control. Just like fire is used to refine metals and remove any impurities, God uses trials to strengthen and refine our faith and make us more like Jesus (I Peter 1:6-7).
Admittedly when we are facing a trial it can be really difficult to see how God is using it for our good. It is only when by the grace of God we get through the trial that we finally realize and see what he has been trying to teach us. But how do we successfully get through these trials? While no means exhaustive, consider the following:
- Pray: The apostle Peter encourages us to cast all our burdens on God because he cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
- The Bible: When we take our time to meditate on God’s Word, it changes not only our minds but also our hearts. When God’s promises take root in our hearts, they can strengthen us during difficult times.
- The Church: The Christian life is one that is lived in community where we can pray and encourage one another.
Although the Holy Spirit continues to work in Christians’ lives daily to become more like Christ, we will still stumble at points. The reformer Martin Luther put it aptly that Christians are simultaneously saint and sinner. There may be instances during trials where we feel God has left us or begin to doubt his promises in his Word. But during those times let us remember that we have a Savior in Jesus, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and “was tempted just in every way as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). For those who are weary and burdened let us come to him because he will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).