Summary: When we go through trials our joy comes from standing firm on the promises that God has given us. It’s through difficult times that faith has the biggest part to play. We show the reality of God’s love for us because we have joy when life is difficult.
I want to explain to those who don’t know, what its like to be a Cardiff city fan. Each season begins with promise, and I feel a sense of expectation and excitement. For the first half of the season, I hope, and dream and see a bit of just what can be achieved with great people such as Andy Legg and Willlie Boland fighting for us. But the life of a soccer team is never easy, and there will always come a time of hardship, where we just don’t seem to be winning, or playing with any passion, or Andy gets injured, and doubts start to creep in. can we achieve promotion this season? Is it worth even turning up to support the boys? But I always trust that we will come good, and be there at the end.
And despite the trials of last season, I have confident assurance that we can do it this year. But I know it will take prayer, and commitment and sacrifice, and more prayer.
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
As far as I can remember, I’ve never enjoyed trials. So thankfully that’s not what James is asking us to do.
Trials are difficult, troublesome often confusing times, and quite frankly, are not nice.
But we have faith. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says ‘1What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.’
So faith is being sure that what we hope for will come about.
Trails test our faith. They make us question where our hope lies and teach to dig deep into the resources that God has provided for us.
Without trials, we would not be hoping for a better time, because we wouldn’t need it; we wouldn’t see the need to depend on God; we wouldn’t grow as Christians, and we wouldn’t have love and compassion for others.
So trials play a big part in developing us as Christians.
James says that through trials your faith develops perseverance, in other words, trials prove that we believe. Then this perseverance, or simple grit and determination, takes over, and allows faith to grow.
Increased faith gives us a spiritual maturity. It helps us to understand who Jesus is, and what he has done for us. It gives us a desire to want more of God, and to want to know more of him.
Imagine you get the one thing you have always wanted, as a gift. It comes through the post, wrapped carefully, and addressed to you personally. But it doesn’t say who sent it. The postage stamp says it comes from the other side of the world and you don’t know anyone there who could possibly know you, or know how much you wanted this gift. Wouldn’t you try to find out who it came from? Wouldn’t you feel a bit guilty, accepting such an amazing gift without knowing who to thank for it?
Surely it’s even more so with the gift that God has given us – eternal life. We know that it cost him dearly, we know that he did it to show his love to each of us personally, and that it cost him his Son. But do we really know who to thank? Do we really know who this giver is, well enough to be indifferent about the gift he has given? Through faith, we can learn more and more about who God is.
Faith leads to trials, trials lead to perseverance, perseverance leads to growth, growth leads to more trials. But if faith also leads to a deeper knowledge of God, then it also leads to the ability to express joy when we go through trials.
So when James talks about joy, he is telling us to see God in the situation. 1 Peter 4 says...
12Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13Instead, be very glad--because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.