“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)
What if we unequivocally, unswervingly, and faithfully saw trials as good gifts from God?
Gifts to make us steadfast, perfect, and complete? Lacking in nothing?
Yesterday we talked about James 1:1 and being a slave of God. Part of understanding our role as slaves is counting the cost. Part of the cost of being a disciple is continuing to live this broken life that we live on this broken planet we call earth. We’ve talked before about life being hard. We’ve talked about hardship and struggles and trials and temptations. Becoming a Christian does not take those things away. In fact, sometimes it’s even harder because we’re called to righteousness in the way that we respond to these things. We’re called to be like Christ. We’re called to count it joy when we face trials.
What if we recognized trial as training, as necessary for spiritual maturity? What if we realized that our Good Dad was giving good gifts for the good of ourselves and the good of His glory? Wouldn’t that just flip everything upside down? Wouldn’t that be cause for joy and celebration?
The child struggles at the painful vaccination but is thankful for (maybe even unaware of) the protection from future pain that comes as a result of the present pain.
The athlete struggles through training but is grateful for it on the field of competition.
The scholar struggles through studies and schoolwork but is thankful for the preparation in the final exam and the career and life that follows.
The Christian battles through trial, but is blessed to have overcome the current challenge in order that they might be victorious in the next.
The world is broken, trials ensue. The God that redeems everything brings good out of trial by growing us in that trial. Here are some great cross references for you to check out.
- Rejoice, your reward is great (Mt 5:12)
- Rejoice, the genuineness of your faith is being tested by fire (1 Pet 1:6-7)
- Rejoice, suffering produces endurance (Rom 5:3)
- Those that remain steadfast are blessed (Jas 5:11)
- You have need of endurance (Heb 10:36)
- Supplementing with steadfastness (2 Pet 1:3-8)
- May God sanctify you (1 Thess 5:23)
Here are the promised by-products of trial:
1. PERFECT (“telios”)
“The way in which we meet every experience in life, we are making ourselves either fit or unfit for the task which God meant us to do.” (Barclay)
2. COMPLETE (“holokleros”)
“Unswerving constancy gradually removes weaknesses and imperfections from a person’s character.” (Barclay) On a daily basis this means conquering old sins, shedding old blemishes, gaining new virtues, and becoming entirely fit for service.
3. DEFICIENT IN NOTHING (“leipesthai”)
Not being defeated by an army, not giving up a struggle, not failing to meet a standard that should have been reached. On a daily basis this means living more victoriously, and reaching nearer to the standard of Jesus Christ Himself.
What trial are you going through RIGHT now that God is using for your sanctification?
And what does counting that trial as JOY change for your perspective right now?