“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting,… For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2-8 NASB)
Trials and temptations are a part of life. We all have them, from the cradle to the grave. Trials can be relative or common. A baby dropping his/her rattle without any means of retrieving it can be a trial, though to us, it seems to be a small matter with an easy fix. We would all agree, however, that enduring a serious illness personally or with a loved one would be a trial. We are challenged from without (relationships and events) and from within (our mind and emotions). So, it is not a matter of will we go through trials, but rather how we will go through them.
In my previous article, we observed Jesus’ example and the biblical instruction on how to endure trials. In that article, we focused on the mindset we should have. We discovered that because we are positioned in Christ at the moment of salvation, we should see ourselves as already victorious over the situation, anticipating the blessing that awaits us on the other side of the trial. The old folks used to say, “Trouble don’t last always.” That mindset enables us to “count it all joy” when we encounter “various trials” (James 1:2 KJV). (For more details, see the previous article in the September edition)
In this article and the ones to follow, we will observe how we are to live as we go through the trials as revealed in the book of James. As we set our minds and affections on God (Colossians 3:1ff) and see ourselves in a place of victory in Christ, how do we live that out in the earth? I believe the book of James offers great insight into this question.
First of all, as expressed in the previous article, we must embrace the concept that trials have a purpose. It is to produce in us endurance. The Greek word used for “endurance” (hapomonē) means to “bear up under, patience, and perseverance” (Strongs Exaustive Concordance). Paul gives us a picture of this in 2 Timothy 2:3 when he says, “Endure hardness as a good soldier.” He continues by describing how a soldier, as well as an athlete and a farmer, persevere for the sake of their desired goal. There is a desired goal that God has for us. It is that we may be “perfect and complete lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
The word “perfect” (teleios) means complete, mature, or whole. This completeness, wholeness, or maturity is achieved when we attain the likeness of the nature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The goal is to become like Jesus. Our endurance in trials brings us to that place. So, let us embrace the hardships and allow them to make us better rather than bitter. James recognizes that this concept begs the question of “how? He answers it by indicating that the answer is found in the acquisition of wisdom. God is the source of all wisdom. All we have to do is ask Him for it, in faith.
Wisdom is applied knowledge. It is the “how” to the “what” of life’s journey’s challenges. Ultimately, it is not about what we go through in life but how we go through it. God, who knows and sees the end from the beginning, knows the successful way to navigate every situation. In addition, God delights to share it with us. James says God gives “liberally” to those who ask. How awesome is that? There is only one condition. We must ask in faith, and for emphasis, James adds, “without doubting.” James goes on to say that the one who doubts cannot expect to receive anything from the Lord. Faith is the currency of Heaven. Just as we cannot expect to get our groceries from the market without the exchange of cash or credit, we cannot expect to receive from God without asking in faith. Faith is what we take to the market of heaven to receive what we need or desire. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 NASB).
In essence, when we ask God for something, we should expect to receive it. Likewise, when we ask God for wisdom, we should expect to receive it. He is a good God who delights to lavish good gifts on His children (Psalms 84:11; Psalms 34:10; Psalms 37:3-7a; James 1:17).
So, the first step in persevering through trials is to embrace them with a positive mindset knowing that God uses them to fashion us into the likeness of Christ (Philippians 2:5-13). The Christian band Hawk Nelson, puts it this way in his song entitled, “Diamonds.”
“The Joy of the Lord, it will be our strength.
When the pressure is on He’s making diamonds…
He’s making diamonds out of dust.
He’s making diamonds out of us.”
Additionally, we are not alone, abandoned or stumbling in the dark. We can access God’s wisdom by looking to Him with faith for direction on how to navigate through the trials.
Consider a trial you are experiencing right now. If you have accepted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, see yourself as seated at the right hand of God and victorious over the trial. Get up. Face the challenge. Proceed through it seeking God for wisdom with the confident expectation (faith) to receive it. Let’s pray.
Father God, I love you and thank you for providing a way for me to go through the challenges of life. Help me to see myself hidden in you and victorious over __________(name the trial). Give me the wisdom and grace to make the right decisions as I go through it. Thank you for hearing me, helping me and shaping me into the likeness of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In the Next Issue of Chaverah
We will explore the next step in persevering through trials, which involves being mindful of our attitude toward God and others in the midst of our trials.
Article Written By: Shermaine Jones