Why? – Testing Your Faith (part 4)
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 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. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:1-12
Last week in this series entitled Why? we continued our in-depth look at the above text to consider five essentials that are necessary in order for a person to experience victory in the midst of hardships and trials of life [i]. Remember the first essential? You must have a joyful attitude. In addition to a joyful attitude, the second essential needed to live victoriously during periods of suffering is an understanding mind. Now we come to the third essential. If you want to turn your trial into a victory, then you must have a surrendered will. Look at verse 4: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
First, according to Warren Wiersbe, we must “consider,” then we must “know,” and now we must “let.” Let God have His way with you. God’s desire is to conform you to reflect the image of His Son. He wants you to be the man or woman of God that He created you to be. Trials help us to that end. They are the building blocks God uses to refine us. When you were saved, God began a good work in you, and He will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6), but He needs your help. He needs your cooperation. He needs a surrendered will. Are you willing to surrender everything you have to Him? Are you willing to say, “Not my will but Thy will be done?” God must work in us before He can work throughus, so let Him!
Notice that Abraham was tested for 25 years before God fulfilled His promise to give him a son. God worked in Joseph for 13 years, putting him through various trials before He put him on the throne of Egypt. God spent 80 years preparing Moses for 40 years of service [ii]. Hebrews 5:7-9 states, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” British author and theologian Charles Williams said, “But you must let your endurance come to its perfect product so that you may be fully developed and perfectly equipped.” Do you want to be used by God? Then surrender your will to Him. Let God have His way with you. He knows what is best for you. He loves you and He will not give you more than you can endure. Furthermore, He promises to be with you always.
Another one of my heroes is Darlene Rose. While serving as a missionary in New Guinea during WWII, she and her husband, Russell, were captured by the Japanese and they were sent to separate concentration camps. One day Darlene received word that her husband had died. She was in her early 20s at the time. She said it was one of those times when she felt the Lord had deserted her. But the Lord had not. He whispered to her heart: “Did I not say to you that ‘when you pass through the waters I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned’ (Isaiah 43:3)?” Darlene said, “I learned in those days that there is a ‘peace that cometh after sorrow, of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled. A peace that looketh not upon tomorrow, but calmly on a storm that is stilled. A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses, nor in the happy life of love secure, but in the unerring strength the heart possesses from conflicts won while learning to endure. It’s a peace that is sacrifice secluded, a life subdued from will and passion free. ‘Tis not the peace that over Eden brooded but that which triumphed over Gethsemane.’”
By the way, Darlene Rose miraculously survived her years in two different Japanese concentration camps. At the end of the war, she made it back to America and was reunited with her mom and dad. She had not heard their voices for eight years. Today, she is in heaven reunited with her husband, Russell.
As I think about this life and all of its many trials and difficulties, the one thing that keeps me going is hope. My hope in Jesus and my hope in heaven help me to stay focused and committed to the One I know I will see one day. The Bible says that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). I hope and pray that you have this hope. Amen!
[ii] Wiersbe, 339.