We often live our lives trying to avoid the tests that life brings. It’s human nature to step around difficulty and look for an easier way to our goal. But testing has a silver lining. And it’s something that God uses to create in us a pure heart and correct perspective. Testing is used to determine purity and worth. Much like when gold is put in the fire to separate out the impurities so that the gold is purer and of higher value.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.
The word count from the above Scripture is a financial term, and it means “to evaluate.” It’s not an emotional word, but a strategic, mental word. When James says to “count it all joy,” he encourages his readers to not only evaluate the way they look at trials but the attitude they have when they go through them.
James is proposing a new and improved attitude that considers trials from God’s perspective. He wants believers to expect “trials of various kinds” throughout the Christian life. We should be prepared and not caught off guard when a sudden trial comes our way. Trials are part of the Christian experience.
Jesus told His disciples, those who were closest to Him and those who were most mature in their faith, “… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus made it clear that tribulation or difficulties will come and that this is something we should be cheerful about?
Typically, a trial is not an occasion for joy. And James isn’t suggesting that we pursue finding a way to make things more difficult. Neither should we to pretend that trials are enjoyable to go through. Trials are difficult and painful. And they test our limits. But they exist for a purpose. That’s what Jesus and James are trying to help us understand.
Godliness and spiritual maturity can only come from the endurance of testing.
Trials have the potential of producing something good in us. And for this reason, they’re an opportunity for expressing joy. Do we really trust God? Knowing there is a bigger picture and a more valuable purpose, we can consider trials as things to rejoice in. Even though joy is contrary to our human reaction, it is something we can choose through faith—changing our attitude about the trouble we face from dread to positive expectation.
But to do that, we must do it in faith. Trusting in God for His outcome in our life. James does not merely say “count it joy,” but he says “count it all joy”; that is, we can consider trials and testings as pure, total joy—every part of it. Too often, we see trials in a negative light, or we assume that joy cannot exist in hardship; worse, we consider the hard times as God’s curse upon us or His punishment for our sin, rather than what they really are—opportunities to joyfully mature into Christlikeness.
I remember when I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 3-6 months to live, when I suffered with severe sciatica for several years, or when I had three strokes that left me numb on an entire side of my body, these were some of the health trials and testing that I faced at different times in my life. There were other types of tests too, but for the sake of time, I’ll only mention these.
If I wanted God’s will from the test, it was very important that I have a godly perspective from the very beginning. I trusted God to bring me to a point of complete healing, because I knew that was His will according to Scripture. My words and actions stayed in faith and in line with God’s Word until the manifestation came. Sometimes it takes a long time. And always your faith will be tested… always! I didn’t feel particularly strong during the battle… more determined than anything… to do it God’s way.
It wasn’t until the battle was over that I could look back and see that impurities were eliminated, my faith was stronger and my perspective more Godly. Each trial produced fruit that has continued to bless my life.
The one thing I have learned is that God is always faithful! But we must show ourselves approved through our walk of faith and expectation of God’s will. It always boils down to “Do I trust Him?”
God intends trials to test our faith and produce spiritual perseverance. Trials are like training challenges for an athlete. Which build physical endurance and stamina. The athlete looks forward to physical and mental challenges because of the benefits that follow.
If we were to walk through life on easy street and never face hardship, our Christian character would remain untested and underdeveloped. Trials develop our spiritual muscles, giving us the stamina and endurance to stay the course (Romans 5:2-5).
In preparation for the difficulties that lie ahead for our generation and the end times, we must use every test as an opportunity to build our spiritual strength for whatever we may face.
In my experience, each new trial tests me to my limits and makes me stronger for the next test. Our spiritual growth and development is for an eternal future and the benefits of the trials here and now, prepare us for our spiritual destiny.
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
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