“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.”
These verses are prime evidence of the teachings of Jesus being contrary to the world. It doesn’t make sense to have joy in the midst of trials. But since we serve an eternal God, we can press on with confidence that the Lord will continue to sanctify us to be more and more like his Son in our time on earth until Heaven!
I’ve told you the story about Nick Vujicic before, but I’ll jog your memory if you don’t remember. He is a 25-year-old evangelist, and he challenges believers to be content in all circumstances. His message takes on new meaning when people see his physical condition – Nick was born without limbs. He doesn’t have arms or legs.
But rather than blaming God for his unique physical condition, he credits his Creator with using him to share the gospel all around the world. He says, “No matter who you are, no matter what you are going through, God knows it and He is going to pull you through… I believe in a God who can do all things, but if He chooses not to give me arms and legs, I know it’s for the better. And I may not understand it, but all I need to know is that He’s going to carry me through – that there is a purpose for it.”
So, what should you do when you encounter a difficult trial? James writes, “Consider it all joy!” This word, consider, means ‘to evaluate.’ In other words, we are to evaluate life’s trials and storms in light of what God is doing. What is God doing? He is preparing you for heaven. He is conforming you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. Remember, He is the Sculptor and you are the sculpture. Do you want to see the sculpture finished? Then let God have His way with you.
This is such a hard thing for us to do. The question so many Christians have a difficult time answering begins with why. Why does God allow hardship and pain into the lives of His children? Why doesn’t he just exempt us from trials and heartache?
We all know that trials are going to come. We know this from God’s Word, and we know this from life’s experiences. We live in a fallen world. Death entered the world when man first sinned, and we have been dying ever since.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” And so here is part of the answer to the why question: Christians are not exempt from the trials and hardships of life because we live in a fallen world. Therefore, it is not a question of if we are going to encounter trials, but when.
From Scripture, we know that God does not waste hardship on us. When we encounter various trials, we know we have entered into God’s workshop. We need to see God as the Sculptor and ourselves as the sculpture. He has a purpose for the trial we are encountering. 1 Peter 4:19 states, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Suffering is part of the will of God. This may be a difficult truth to accept, but God will give us complete understanding of His ways when we get to Heaven.
For the believer, pain and suffering have an eternal purpose, and God can and will work them out for good. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” Here’s the deal: if you choose to follow Christ, He promises to work everything out for good for those who love Him, even bankruptcy, even amputated legs, even the death of a child, even you fill in the blank. One day, after our short life on earth, we will see how God used our trials and tribulations for eternal good. And we will thank Him for them.
In John 16:20-23 Jesus said this: “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy… Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day, you will no longer ask me anything.” Are you still questioning God? Are you still asking Him, “Why?” Know this…there is coming a day for all of us when the why questions will all be answered. And in that day we will rejoice, and no one will ever take away our joy!