James on Trial

Help Understanding Hardships

Purpose of Trials

Written By: Ray - Aug• 09•10

Why Do I Have To Endure Trials?

(Updated on 9 August 2010)

Recently, I saw that someone found one of my websites by searching on Google for the phrase, “Why does God give us trials?” First, let me say that I do not believe God causes the trials that come into our lives. Some of the hardships that we face are the result of our own actions, others result from the actions of those around us and some hardships occur to everyone in a particular location (like hurricanes). Since I believe that God is omnipotent (all powerful), I must conclude that He ALLOWS these things to happen to us – and uses them to fulfill His purposes. Hardships are intended as “object lessons” to prepare us for some other event that is yet to come.

May I suggest that one of the themes of the Book of James is found in James, chapter 1, verses 2 & 3. It is summarized in the phrase: “Joy in trials.” God (through the writing of James) says that we must not only ACCEPT the trials that we face but that we are commanded to “Consider it pure joy” (verse 2). Before you turn me off here, let me explain myself. By “accepting the trials” I do not mean that we should just lay down meekly and let the world (and the devil) beat us up until we die. To “accept” the trial means to do so as a soldier accepts orders. He is ordered to go into the battle – not to just lay down and be killed – but to fight. The outcome of the battle is uncertain and he MAY die, but he hopes that after some unknown time and some unknown measure of pain, to come out of the battle victorious!

Still, accepting trials is a pretty tall request even in its most gracious form. But James says that we should do so even when we “face trials of many kinds.” I normally like the New International Version (NIV) readings better — but in this case, the King James Version (KJV) seems to be more vivid: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, KJV). The Greek words describe one falling into a deep pit filled half-way up (and yet well over your head) with a fluid of the most disgusting kind (use your juvenile imagination here and you will probably get it right). He says that when you find yourself overwhelmed with temptations (of every kind and of the most disgusting nature – and without a visible end), then you should say, “This is going to be beneficial to me in some way” – and mean it!

The reason that you will be able to make such a statement is found in verses 3 & 4: “BECAUSE you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Perseverance is the Christian virtue of patience. But God does not allow trials into our lives so that we simply become more patient. His intention is much larger — He intends for His children to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” For me, there is a vast chasm between where I am today and my becoming “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” To get there, God allows temporary hardships to help me develop and mature. And, BECAUSE I KNOW that the testing of my faith develops me into the person that God has designed for me, I can say, “This trial is going to be good for me.”

Many of us are familiar with Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The problem of that verse is in our interpretation of “good.” How most people today define the word is very different from how God defines it.

Think about the times that we disagree with our children over what is “good” for them. As parents, we know that our present decisions (which they consider harsh and unnecessary) will help them to develop into better people. We want them to avoid the future hardships and pain that they can’t conceive. That is precisely how God sees our “good.”

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One Comment

  1. Ray says:

    I totally agree with Greg Laurie when he said on his blog,

    God allows trials and hardship in your life so you can help others. As a result, whatever difficulty, challenge, or suffering you may be going through need not be wasted.”

    <a href="http://blog.greglaurie.com/?p=1086” target=”_blank”><a href="http://blog.greglaurie.com/?p=1086” target=”_blank”>http://blog.greglaurie.com/?p=1086 AMEN, Greg!

    I believe that GODLY WISDOM is wisdom that is shared.

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