I know some folks who are going through a season of trial and difficulty right now. As I pray for them and offer encouragement where I can, I have been reminded of James 1:2. It may be an odd thought at first but I want to pick out one word in the sentence that doesn’t normally get a lot of focus.
James says “count it all joy my brothers when you face trials of various kinds.” For the purpose of this post, would you look at the word in bold text here? Why didn’t James say “if” you face trials? The obvious reality is because facing trials is a part of life. Whether they are a trial that is the result of decisions we have made (good or bad), the result of living for Christ in an increasingly secular society, or for some reason we can’t make heads or tails of, the reality is that we will regularly face trials. They will vary in intensity. They will vary in duration. They will come unexpectedly. But they will come. Peter has a similar thought: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
Since we, as followers of Christ say we want to be “fully devoted followers of Jesus,” and since becoming mature in our walk with him happens most effectively as we grow through trials and learn to endure them (the primary point of James 1:2-4), why would it surprise us that we face trials?
More importantly, since we know that God’s desire for us is conformity to the image of His Son, and trials accomplish that best, why would we think that God’s desire for us is to help us avoid trials?
It isn’t that God is sadistic and likes to see us suffer. Rather, it is that God’s greatest desire for us is to be in a position of maturity that will allow us to endure trials with greater effectiveness in the future. This is best for us (since they will continue to come), and it is best for the glory of God when others see us enduring trials with grace.
Let’s not go out looking for trouble. Let’s not get a cavalier attitude toward life and live in a way that invites trials and difficulties. But let’s stop being so surprised when they come.
How do you negotiate trials in your life? What are some of the tips you would have for other readers here about how to handle trials as they come? We’re in this together; let’s learn from each other.