Summary: There is a special joy in coming through the trials of life.
How to Be Blessed
As we continue, please remember that our threefold definition of being blessed is simply:
1) To be especially happy and content
2) To have inner peace within
3) To be confident and fulfilled
Today we will begin with James 1:12. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Don’t you get sick of some of the things people say when they see us going through tough times? You know, stuff like, “when the going gets tough the tough get going!” Or, “if at first you don’t succeed try, try, again.” The positive thinking preacher Robert Schuller even wrote a book entitled “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” That sort of stuff is enough to make a person sick and really frustrating to hear at times.
Those types of common proverbs just don’t help when you just got laid off of your job. They just don’t make you feel better when diagnosed with a catastrophic illness or dealing with a wayward child.
I almost want to be angry with James, who launched his letter to believers with the command to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…(James 1:2). When I don’t view the whole context it seems like James is saying we should be saying things like “happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! My car was just totaled!” or perhaps “Oh Boy! I just lost my job!” or “I’m so thrilled, my child just got arrested and it looks like he is going to prison for a long time! FANTASTIC!” Even the Apostle Paul said that we are to rejoice in the Lord, Always! He doesn’t say rejoice in the problems, but in the Lord.
Aren’t you glad James goes on to explain that it isn’t the trials that are the reason for rejoicing but instead the results in our lives because they create endurance and maturity in our lives? In other words it is the end result of the trials that are important.
Everything God does in your life is to prepare you for the next step. A personal trainer might encourage you to do twenty repetitions today and twenty-five tomorrow. He knows that each of those exercises is supposed to strengthen you for the day when you can do thirty repetitions and then forty, and then fifty.
In my own life, I’ve gone through some severe trials. In one situation, I was targeted and persecuted for a year and a half. During that time, I learned to be concerned for the one who sought to hurt me. I grew in my faith in God and my ability to respond in Christian love in the face of lies and exaggerations being told on me. At the end of that year and a half I was stronger in my faith and there was a sense of being blessed because I had endured it. I did not know that the terrible trial I went through was to prepare me for an even bigger trial when someone closer to me hurt me. That one lasted about six years and still has repercussions and open wounds, but God prepared me and gave me the strength to tough it out.
God does not bring trials into your life only to help mold you. Job experienced a time of testing unlike any person in history. The Scripture says his captivity turned when he prayed for His friends. Job’s time of testing grew and matured Job but also had an impact on his friends.
Some of my trials have translated into blessing for others. Some of you have been right there with me as I went through the aforementioned trials and you not only watched me grow, supported and encouraged me, you also grew along with me. God brought some trials into my life so I could share them and be a blessing to you.
Maturity and growth is one key part of the blessing that comes into our life with trials. If we don’t grow and mature in the trial, God will be forced to bring another trial into our lives to bring about the maturity and growth He is trying to bring about. Peter Lord used to say, “God has fixed a fix to fix you. If you get out of that fix without getting fixed then God will be forced to fix another fix to fix you!” God is working diligently to bring about His character and His nature into you life and trials is a key ingredient to the formula that brings about spiritual growth. If you ever read about one of God’s people in the Bible who never had a trial then please come and point that character out to me. I imagine that there is an exception or two, but every major character in the Scripture had a time of trial or a time of testing.