Today’s article is submitted by Sister Erin Light. It’s based on a class prepared by her mother, Sister Carolyn Light, on James 1:1-12. The theme is “Reasons for Trials,” and the article reads a bit like a lesson outline. It uses this passage in James to shed light on one of the toughest questions in Christianity: “Why does God let bad things happen to His people?”
One of the best tests of spiritual growth and maturity is trouble. When believers go through personal trials, they discover the kind of faith they really possess. Trials not only reveal our faith, but they also develop our character.
The book of James tells us, “The trying of your faith worketh patience.” Patience is enduring faith, faith with staying power, faith that overcomes. Verses 1 to 12 speak about trials and tests that come into our lives from outside circumstances. God is trying to produce in each of His servants “faith that overcomes,” that endures, that has staying power. Far too many who start out following Christ fall by the wayside when temptations and trials come. God is trying to produce an inward change by allowing and even ordaining outward trials to build in us an overcoming faith.
God wants us to understand that trials in life are not uncommon (Mt. 5:10-12; 1 Pe. 4:12). If you are going through trials right now, realize that God is not picking on you (1 Cor. 10:13). He has a purpose!
Trials Happen to Produce Real Joy in Christ
Trials are not meant to produce anger or bitterness. A spiritually mature follower of Christ who possesses overcoming faith will rejoice in the midst of trials (Acts 5:40, 41, 16:23-25). Our joy is produced by the Holy Spirit and is not dependent on circumstances. We can’t lose our joy when we have a flat tire, can’t pay a bill, have a family argument, are made fun of at work, etc. God allows us to see through the trials to what lies beyond (Heb 12:2 ; 1 Pe 1:7). No matter what we suffer here, we shall see heaven.
Trials Happen to Produce an Enduring Faith
“The trying of your faith worketh patience.” Patience means endurance, staying power. Some who begin following Christ have no “staying power” — they do not endure. God uses trials to increase our endurance. Marathon endurance runners train their bodies to endure long races. They teach themselves to handle the pain, the distance, the pace, the length of time, the discipline to keep going. God wants us to be “long-distance” servants.
If you’re wondering, “What’s the purpose of this trial?”, consider that God is trying to produce in us an overcoming, long-lasting, durable faith that doesn’t quit when it’s tried. What if Jesus had quit because, say, nobody shook His hand or noticed Him or nobody did things His way. We are to endure difficulty as a good soldier of the cross (2 Tim 2:3).
Trials Happen to Mature You Spiritually
Trials produce patience (enduring faith), and patience produces spiritual maturity. We cannot be a mature and complete follower of Christ until we learn to endure trials with joy (without complaining). Spiritual maturity is God’s goal for our life. If a baby remains a baby for too long, then we know there is something wrong. Some believers stay babes in Christ for years, and that is not God’s plan. “But let patience have her perfect work,” (James 1:4) which means we must be willing to allow God to mature us.
Trials Happen to Drive Us to Prayer
We pray for wisdom to understand what God is trying to teach us. God wants us to ask Him for this wisdom. He asks us to pray without doubt, believing He will answer. We cannot have an unstable, unreliable, uncertain mind when we ask God for wisdom. We must have one mind — one with Christ’s. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). We must want God’s will to be done in our lives.
Trials Happen to Bring Equality Among the Brethren
When the poor man is tried, it brings exaltation (James 1:9). Through testing, the poor receive spiritual riches (Ro 11:33; Ep 3:8). When the rich man is tried, it brings humility (James 1:10-11) to keep him depending on God. Sometimes God has to take our riches away to give us the true riches (Luke 16:11).
Trials Happen to Bring Us Reward in Heaven
We are not saved by enduring trials, but we are rewarded for enduring trials. God promises us a great reward for enduring life’s trials, both now and eternally (Mk. 10:28-30).
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Absolutely wonderful content. When considering the message this article brings, especially as it relates to the orginal author of this class study and the writer of these beautiful words, and all this family experienced, the authenticity is that much more powerful. I am moved. I am inspired. I am blessed. God love you and your father, dear sister (Love you, Sweet Erin)