In times of trial and suffering, we often wonder what God desires to produce by them. We tend to focus on being done with this time rather than on what God is doing rather than understanding that the trials we face are to bring about a complete and perfect faith.
If we could visit James 1:2-4 for a moment, I want you to see that the subject of this passage is not perseverance but faith. James says the goal in our trials is that our faith become perfect, complete, not lacking anything. “Perfect” in this verse means lacking zero faith.
This by the way is why and how we can rejoice in our trials- because they are producing in us a faith that is absolutely completely perfect – a faith that is not lacking anything in any respect. Think about that for a moment. What would that be like- to be so full of faith in God that when trials come our way we have no doubt about them, or hesitancy in going through them?
Faith like this can only be produced by testing and trials- i.e. suffering. This is why we can consider our trials with joy and welcome adversity as a friend- because they are God’s means to an end. Trials can mean the end of self-sufficiency and the beginning of dependence upon Him.
I love it when someone says to me “I can’t go on this way anymore!” I tell them they are right, and thank God they don’t have to! Jesus is here to help them change!
Each trial is a building block of faith. Each time we successfully navigate through the trial (by God’s grace) God proves He is faithful. We experience His sustaining power. He has carried us and directed us. We see He is true to His Word. We see He loves us.
So when the next trial comes we can go into it knowing that He is at the helm, He is only going to allow it to go so far and that it will not steal away our faith in Him.
It is somewhat like riding the waves in a boat in a storm. Each time I successfully navigate the swells my confidence grows that it will all hold together in Christ. By the same token, suffering is a confirmation of your faith. It is wrong to tell a Christian that they are undergoing trials and sufferings because they maybe are not a Believer.
This is what Job’s friends tried, remember? They wanted Job to think that he was cast off by God due to his suffering. God brings us trials and sufferings to show us that we are Christians! Remember that He is maturing our faith in these times. We certainly do not enjoy these times. We don’t say “Yippie! I am suffering! Oh YAY!” but there is a certainty about them, a confidence that God is maturing and completing His perfect work within us. He is making us more useful to Him as we learn and grow spiritually during those times.
Suffering shows us there is simply no one like God!