Read James 1:1-12
There are some years that stick out more than most.
If I had to write a movie script about my 2019, there would be enough material for sequel after sequel, a saga lengthier than Star Wars. The year began with starting a new career, the death of a dear friend, followed up by the worst personal trial of my life. A month later I was burying my father who passed away unexpectedly, leaving my brother and sister to care for our grandmother who lives almost 2 hours away. It felt like almost every week there was a new trial.
While the year was very trying and difficult for us, we received amazing support from our church family. I personally could not have made it through the year without the Word of God, the church and the support of brothers and sisters in Christ. My faith in the Lord was strengthened and increased in spite of going through trial after trial.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, tells us in James 1:1-12 that we will have trials and temptations. It is inevitable that we will go through storms in life. But God uses these experiences in our lives to deepen our faith in Him. As painful and humbling as my experiences were last year, I can tell you that I am in a better place now because of it. The pain is still there and the scars remain, but I feel closer to the Lord than I did before.
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are NOT immune to trials. We are all going to go through trials; it is not IF but WHEN. Verse 2 says, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”.
Our trials are not joyful in and of themselves. It wasn’t joyful for me to bury my father, pay for his burial, see my grandma go in to the hospital, etc. However, they are joyful when we realize they are under the authority of God who is using them to accomplish His purpose.
There are 4 things we can learn as we go through trials in life:
- We can grow in the likeness of Jesus. God desires for us to be “complete, lacking nothing” (v 4), to have maturity in Him and to grow in His likeness. We can take joy in knowing that, no matter how tough our trials are, we can move forward toward this goal. Trials are joy when our goal is God! When we set our eyes on Him and not the stuff of this world, our trials will become joy because they will teach us to depend upon Him, trust Him and love Him.
- We learn to trust in His wisdom. We do not have the wisdom we need on our own to walk through trials. But the Lord does! His promises are faithful and true.
- We learn to rely upon His provision. Verses 9-11 deal with poverty. If we are poor, we can take joy in the inheritance and status we have as a child of God for ETERNITY!!! Our trials are temporary!! Our inheritance as a child of God is FOREVER and can never leave us. Money cannot solve our problems.
- We learn to live for the reward we receive from Him. James tells us in verse 12 that, if we are steadfast under trial, we “receive the crown of life”. The reward of eternal life. Our trials are temporary. Eternal life is forever!!! We can be joyful knowing that we are living for an eternal reward yet to come.