Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4
A familiar passage of Scripture greets us today. It seems that we all have enough troubles on every side, don’t we? As I think about the depth and severity of the “various trials” we encounter, it is very easy to become depressed and morose. Our world is in trouble financially, emotionally, culturally, and in an even greater crisis — spiritually.
What sort of trials will we endure as individuals or as a nation? Will we face disease or financial loss, or will we lose personal liberties and come under greater persecution for our faith? It could happen, for the forces of evil are mounting an enormous offense against God and His people.
Yet, God is on the throne. God is sovereign, and all that comes to pass will be an unfolding of His plan, determined before the foundations of the world were set in place. These trials will indeed develop perseverance among God’s people, whether as individuals or as a whole. It will help us to see who is of us, and who is not.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.1 John 1:19
The above passage is in reference to those who claimed to be believers, but were not truly regenerate. They were speaking lies and heresy regarding the Gospel and Christ. We could also make application to those who, when things get tough and hardships come, abandon their faith. These are people with shallow faith and no foundation in biblical truth. It is the stuff that dangerous emotional decisions for Christ are made of.
Trials are intended to weaken us in our humanity and strengthen us spiritually. Never am I so weak as when all that I count on in life is shaken— when my earthly comforts and pleasures are stricken and threatened, when I feel as though I am alone. God is carefully whittling us down during those times of trial when it seems as though the ground were removed from beneath our feet. He does not want us to count on ourselves, our friends, or any device of mankind. Our great and glorious God is taking us lower and lower to the place where there is nothing other than Him. He removes kings and sets them up (Daniel 2:20-22), and gives and takes away (Job 1:21). It is all with a purpose, it is all intentional. There is no other time when I am stripped so naked and so vulnerable.
When I am done “solving” the problem and I throw up my hands to heaven in surrender, our God simply rejoices.
Trials are intended to remind us that God keeps us. You have heard me say this before because it bears repeating! Once, I was so distressed at circumstances I was ready to walk away from God. Surely, had He not been keeping me I would have walked away in those hours. I would have walked away from all that I know and believe in my soul to be truth. I had to ask myself, if I walk away from this, from Him, what else is there? I knew there was nothing … and in those hours of black, horrible despair as I wrestled with my circumstances I realized I truly could not walk away from God. I could not because HE would not allow it. I was reminded over and over of this passage:
“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator… And He who formed you …”Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior … you are precious in My sight … you are honored and I love you”Isaiah 43:1-4
It was He who was holding on to me, He who reminded me over and over of His love in spite of how it all appeared to be. He showed much mercy that night for He could have struck me dead for my treasonous heart. He put His overwhelming grace on display as He waited me out and reminded me that though I thought I was leaving, He had never let go.
In this way, trials are to prove to us that once found we cannot be lost, and once bought we will never be given away. We have been bought at great price my friends. Oh the matchless and wonderful grace of God! Seek after Him today!