Summary: Trials in the life of a Christian are a norm. But it is how we handles those trials, that separates us from the rest.
From Trouble to Triumph
Trials in the life of a Christian are a part of life. How we view those trials and handle them is a whole different story though. The Scriptures mention at least eight purposes for the Lord’s allowing trials to come to the lives of His people.
• Trials are to test the strength of our faith.
• Trials are given to humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn into presumption and spiritual self satisfaction.
• God allows us to suffer trials in order to wean us from our dependence on worldly things.
• Trials call us to eternal and heavenly hope. The harder our trials become and the longer they last, the more we look forward to being with the Lord.
• Trials are used to reveal what we really love.
• Trials are given to teach us to value God’s blessings
• Trials are used to develop in enduring strength for greater usefulness.
• Trials enable us to better help others in their trials.
Since trials are so productive, it is essential for us to respond rightly to them. James helps us greatly in this by giving us five key means for persevering through trials. He then tells us of the reward for perseverance.
I. The Means for Perseverance
a. A Joyful Attitude (v. 2)
• The word consider, is an imperative because joy is not the natural human response to trouble.
1. Christians are under divine command though not simply to be somewhat joyful in their trials but to look upon those trials with all joy.
• We are not just to act joyful, in reluctant pretense, but to be genuinely joyful.
1. It is a matter of will, not of feelings, and should be the conscious, determined commitment of every faithful believer.
• The more we rejoice in our trials, he more we realize that they are not liabilities but privileges, ultimately beneficial and not harmful, no matter how destructive and painful the immediate experience of them might be.
1. When we face trials with the attitude that James admonishes, we discover that the greatest part of the joy is drawing closer to God – the Source of all joy.
• Although he was writing from prison and enduring great discomfort, frustration, and pain, Paul could say with complete sincerity, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Phil. 4:11-12)
James Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on James wrote, “Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to count it all joy! If we live only for the present and forget the future, the trials will make us bitter not better.
• If a Christian cannot rejoice in his trials, his values are not godly and biblical.
b. An Understanding Mind(v. 3)
• A second means to triumphant perseverance in trials is an understanding mind.
• As Christians, we know from our own experience, as well as from God’s Word, that the testing of [our] faith produces endurance.
1. We have learned that His promise is indeed true, for, after we have endured suffering, affliction, or testing, we have discovered that our trust in the Lord is not only intact but is all the stronger for the testing.
• David testified, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon the rock making my footsteps firm.” (Ps. 40:1-2)
• The Bible makes it clear that no person who comes to God in saving faith will ever be separated from the Savior.
1. First, we are secure because of the power of God.
a. Jesus himself said, “I give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28; 6:39)
2. Second, we are secure because of the promise and prayers of Christ himself.
3. Third, we are secure because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
• The whole trinity secures us, so that no one who believes in the Lord, will ever be lost.
c. A Submissive Will (v. 4)
• A third means to perseverance in trials is a submissive will.
• The only way out of a trial is going through it.