Monday, February 8, 2010

The Value of Trials

At a pastor’s conference I attended several years ago, I was introduced to a fellow pastor. He was introduced to me as “James such and such.” I made the “mistake” of asking him if he went by James, Jim, or Jimmy. I simply wanted to acknowledge him in the manner that he preferred. His reply was a somewhat gracious but terse, “Have you ever heard of the Apostle Jimmy?” Of course he meant that he wanted to be known as James. And he was!

I said that so I could segway into the fact that our Apostle James makes this startling remark in what we call the first chapter, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds...” (James 1:2a ESV)

Please note three distinct statements in this phrase. The first distinct statement is that we are to count, consider, think, over even esteem our trials as joyful. James is pointing to the attitude that is called for when we experience trials. Grammatically his choice of tense of this verb points to "an urgency." Also, it seems that James’ choice of tense indicates that we are, as a definite act, to adopt this attitude in relationship to trials.

The second distinct statement we see in this phrase is contained in the word joy. The believers that James was writing to were to regard their testing as grounds for pure joy. Really, it would read “all joy.” In other words, our attitude is to be “all joy account it.” Now, lest anyone were to misunderstand, our suffering is not the reason for our joy, but it means that when suffering through trials of various kinds occurs our attitude toward them is that of all joy.

The third distinct statement that we see in this phrase is the description of trials of various kinds. We will encounter a variety of difficulties associated with everyday living. Trials come at us from the inside and from the outside.

The conclusion is that we as the children of God are to have made at some point in our life a decision based on a definite act that we have determined that trials are a reason for us to experienced all joy. They are not to give us reasons for anxiety, depression, fear, anger, or disbelief.

How can this be possible? How can we consider trials as a basis of all joy? What would keep us from developing “normal” reactions to the trials in our lives?

Well I am glad you asked. So, let me give you a list of what I have discovered with the prayer that it may be both a blessing and a help to you, God’s Gospel Driven Disciples”

The reason that we should consider our trials as means of all joy is that trials…

1. …test the strength or maturity of my faith. Is my faith weak ?

Is it developing or ripening? Does God want to increase my faith? Where is my faith, or more to the point, what have I put my faith in?

2. …humble me.

My heart is filled with pride. Most of the time I don’t even see my pride. Usually it is because I may be busy trying to remove a little speck of something from your eye, that I fail to see the log in my eye. God hates pride and we are such proud people.

3. …wean me from worldly things.

God has given us so many gifts in this world that we could never catalog them. Rather than give God glory, thanks, and worship for all His gifts, we have a tendency to love them more than Him. We usually prefer the gifts rather than the giver. Periodically God finds ways of showing us that we love the things in this world more than we love Him.

4. …call me to an eternal hope.

Trials remind me that this world is temporary and that everything in it is temporary. My home and my hope is in heaven. I focus is to be on eternal things. Paul reminded the Colossians to focus on things above and not on things below. Trials can cause us to long for “home.” They cause us to trust our eternal hope.

5. …reveal what I really love.

This is somewhat related to number 3. However, when we face the loss of a job, a title, or position, or the loss of a home, we soon discover how much we really “love our things.” A house is just lumber and mortar. It does not provide eternal security nor define us as who we are.

6. …teach me to value God’s blessings.

When God does end the trial and the suffering subsides, I can value the blessings of God. I am able to see His gifts and blessings as unmerited grace towards me.

7. …enable me to help or comfort someone else.

Eventually the trial ends and the purpose plays out. As God has comforted me I am then able to be a blessing and comfort to someone who is experiencing some similar to what I just went through.

Well, there you have it, a short list of why we are to value trials. I hope this list helps. I would love to see your reasons why we are to value trials. Leave a comment and a suggestion, it could be just what I need to hear today! God Bles you!


Anonymous said...

That was a very insightful list especially #7

I have been a Christian for 30 years and have found this to be so true.

I am a converted drunk and God has allowed me to share the Gospel with many people caught up in this sin.

I'm not proud of my evil wicked life before Christ but praise be to God He has used my testimony to open the hearts of many drunks.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (King James Version)

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

good Bible study, thanks

God bless you, Ron

Persis said...

Thanks for posting this. I can relate to most of the things on your list. It is the goodness of God that He does not heed what we think is best, but gives us what is really best for us, even if it is suffering.