“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NKJV)
Things happen in life … some anticipated while others are totally unexpected. Regardless, when these events occur we are often at a loss for words. We don’t really know what to say or even what to do!
Countless times in my life of 72 years there have been occasions when someone would call or come by the house or office … distraught … in some cases traumatized … but in all of the cases there was a bewildered look on their face … and the deer-in-the-headlight look!
“Why,” they would ask! “Why did this have to happen?” “I just don’t understand!” “How could God allow this to take place?”
Do any of these expressions sound even vaguely familiar? Of course they do! Each of us has found ourselves offering verbally or even internally these questions … looking for answers and strength in a time of weakness and distress!
Trials and tribulations are just as much a part of life and living as is the very act of breathing itself! And when they do arrive … how in this world we are supposed to not only face them head on … but deal with them in a way that life can continue!
Yes, as the line in the song says, “Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees, time can break your heart, have you begging please.”
And it is at this point those who are of faith … those who believe in and trust the Lord with “all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind” are already making their way to the Master who has invited all with “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV)
In the early days of the church, God’s people by reason of persecution (Acts 8:4), were scattered abroad! They weren’t together in one secure group! Forced to leave their homes, and in some cases their families, they fled to other towns and countries!
Make no mistake, these early Christians were being persecuted because of their faith, but when they scattered … they scattered “everywhere preaching the word!” And it is to these persecuted and scattered people of God that James writes (James 1:1).
The inspired writer, James, wanted to encourage these early Christians to rejoice in whatever state they were to be found living in. And do you know what? They could rejoice because their lives were being watched over by God!
While they were experiencing tremendous difficulties, their greatest temptations would have included grumbling, even discontentment, and certainly loneliness, and maybe even the desire to turn back to their former way of life! It can be our challenge in the face of hardship and trials in the 21st century as well!
To be more specific, the term “trials” used in the Book of James would include ordeals, certainly, various tests of their faith! There is not an evil connotation generally with trials, as there is nothing that could be viewed as immoral when experiencing these “trials!”
- Maybe it is sorrow or sickness, or even pain of some sort!
- Perhaps these “trials” appear in the form of disappointment, hardship of some kind and even grief!
Would we not all agree that any or all of these challenges have the ability to test or prove the faithfulness of God’s people both in the 1st Century and the 21st Century?
Examples are numerous in both Testaments … like that of Job, or Elijah, the Apostle Paul and what about the Apostle John banished to isolation on the Isle of Patmos. Remember the Apostle Peter asking about what would happen to John in John 21:21, 22? The Lord already knew what was going to happen to each one of these men!
And the fact is … He already knows about each one of us!
What we must all be diligent in remembering is this: the true view of these trials from God’s perspective is that when they come … and they will come … they always do … that we are able to view any and all of them as opportunities to find and gain new strength!
We are living in trying and troublesome times! May we keep our hearts centered upon the Lord and our eyes fixed on the “better place” that awaits those who are faithful to the Lord … Heaven!
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” (Hebrews 10:35, ESV)
Bill Fairchild, Jr.