Once it’s begun, some know it well enough to finish quoting it. It’s one of those passages that even though we might know it well, we don’t really like it. Why is that? It’s because we Christians find it somewhat difficult to live by.
Where is it? It’s right there at the outset of James’ letter, as though it was the chief concern of his writing. He said,
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (1:2-3).
Hmm… wait a minute God. That’s not the kind of counting I like to do. Besides, what’s so JOYful about falling? Why me? What did I do wrong? Father, I’d be glad to praise You for the lack of trials in my life and count it as joy. Amen?
How in this wounded world, could our great God ask such of us mere mortals? Well, let me remind you that happiness and joy are not the same things. I can explain that better, here.
Perhaps a better question should be made clear. Why does the Sovereign, omniscient God of my heart and ruler of this universe need to test my faith? Doesn’t He already perfectly know both the quality and quantity of my faith? Yes. Of course, He does. That’s exactly why He allows trials. The basic end result of all trials is designed to be the strengthening of our faith.
Trials, storms, and times of testing come in various shapes, sizes, and seasons. From the earthly perspective, we readily recognize trials of disobedience.
Storms of disobedience are easily cited. Think of the Prophet Jonah, for example. A quick perusal of the four chapters identified by his name reveals that it was his personal disobedience to the known will of God that floated his life into a trial of epic proportions. Through many Bible examples and contemporary ones as well, there is a huge principle at work. Willful disobedience to the known will of God is a one-way ticket into a storm of correction. However, we should thank God for course corrections in life. It is His goodness that leads us to these times.
Just be good, enjoy spiritual prosperity, and everything should be okay. Sounds good. Right? It seems simple enough that with willful obedience to God’s Word and will I can eat of the good of the land and bathe daily in its blessings. That, however, is more of a fairy tale than a biblical reality.
The reality of Bible evidence and the experience of the righteous teach us that we sometimes fall into trials because we did everything right. Storms of obedience often come unexpectedly. Seriously, whoever expects to get in trouble for doing right?
That’s exactly what happened to Jesus. Our Lord was without sin and never did His heart walk in disobedience to Scripture. His example is for us to go through trials without getting bitter. Instead, we can know up front that trials only serve to make us better (if counted joyfully).
Have you considered that? God wants to make you better.
Mark 4:35-41 records that Jesus told His Disciples to get into the boat so they could cross over to the other side together. In spite of their obedience to the Lord, they soon found themselves in the most frightening of storms, but the Lord was with them. He’s with you too.
You could be going through the greatest storm of your life right now, and at the same time, you could be in the center of God’s will. I’ve been there before. Like the targeted bull’s eye of the master archer, you could be right where you’re supposed to be in life. Nevertheless, it can be fearful and quite unsettling, though it’s the best place in the universe to be. Go ahead and call out to Him. Don’t mistake His silence for sleeping. He’s on board, and He cares for you.
Are you going through a trial right now? Is it serving as a course correction? Do you see yet how it will make you better? Tell me about it and let’s pray one for another.