Joy in Trials
by Krystal Peterson
Trials of many kinds, who can relate? During this pandemic we have faced things we never thought could happen, yet as God's Word instructs us, we are to face them with joy. James 1:2-4 encourages, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. So, how can we consider it pure joy when a job has been lost, when facing a health condition, your child is bullied, or you are at your wit's end in isolation?
Let's dig into James 1 for just a minute. I found it interesting that the word trials in verse 2 is the same word as temptation in verse 13. So, we could translate it as, "consider it pure joy when you face temptations of many kinds". This is so helpful, isn't it? Because when facing opposition, hardships, or challenges to our faith, isn't there a huge temptation to compromise or give up our faith? Isn't it easier to say, "not today, Lord, I just don't have the energy"? But, if we resist temptations with God's help, the temptations testing our faith will lead to perseverance, the strengthening of our faith and to maturity. For example, think about when you left home for the first time, maybe to go to college. The circumstances you faced leaving home inevitably brought many trials and temptations to your faith. Trials such as being around other people with different moral standards,intellectual challenges raised by some courses of study, freedom to do whatever you wanted, and new friends that may have mocked or minimalized your faith. As a parent, it is easy to want to protect, guard and coddle my children from the world out there, but we cannot do that. We need to encourage our young people to face trials and temptations and to live our their faith in this new, ever changing world in which we find ourselves. It is no different for any generation. Every generation has faced trials and temptations. With God, we can persevere in our faith and become mature believers. We need to encourage our young people to face trials and temptations and to live out their faith in this new, ever changing world in which we find ourselves. It is no different for any generation. Every generation has faced trials and temptations. With God, we can persevere in our faith and become mature believers.
Regardless of the trial or temptation, the principle remains the same. We need to face trials with joy, because perseverance through trials will lead to maturity. The joy part seems odd, doesn't it?! To have joy in trials, or to say it another way, to have joy in the face of temptation?! Well, joy looks forward to something that will definitely happen. Jen Wilkin defines joy as, "the emotion evoked by the prospect of possessing what one desires". To "count it all joy", or to "measure" it all joy, means the Lord is growing you, opportunity by opportunity, in maturity. Hebrews 12:2 teaches us that Jesus counted it all joy for what was set before Him when He endured the cross. Trials hurt. Trials are not awesome. But Jesus set the ultimate example of considering His final trial, death on a cross,as pure joy,for the eternal price for His beloved children.
Trials and temptations overwhelm us. They stop us from thinking wisely. We can quickly begin to rely on our own understanding instead of relying on what God says. And if we do that, we stop persevering in our faith.
Here are some practical ways we can consider trials or temptations with joy:
- Our starting point must be the wisdom of God, so we read His Word to grow and prepare us, as His Spirit enables us to face temptations head on. We take time to study, to reflect and to apply God's truth to our lives.
- Next, face trials with an eternal perspective (Hebrews 12:2). It's so easy to get caught up in searching for quick fixes and instant happiness. The maturing of our faith doesn't come easy. Our feet are firmly planted upon this earth, but our hope rests in Jesus, now and for eternity.
- Last, faithfully. Our human, sinful nature will compromise, or naturally want to give up. This is not from God; He will give us strength to endure - God only sends good things (James 1:17).
Often, we can think of trials as..."What have I done to deserve this!?" Just remember, temptations and trials come from the evil one, but God uses them to enable us to persevere, grow and mature into the people He wants us to be. We know He can do this because we have seen this in the person of Jesus. Jesus endured the worst trials. God did not send suffering directly into Jesus' life, but God used His suffering to achieve the salvation of the world, yours and mine, our forgiveness and eternal life.
Here is my encouragement for YOU today: Try to see trials and temptations with joy because of what they are doing in your life. Try to deal with them with these three perspectives: wisely (from God's Word), eternally (instead of thinking of the here and now) and faithfully (knowing that God does not bring them into our lives directly, but He allows them and produces great things in our lives because of them).
You are not in this alone! We invite you to join us at True Joy, our all campus women's event on March 13th, as we look into what God has to say about joy. We will hear from Haley Greene, Amanda Phillips, and Amanda August - wives of the pastors from Bethel's three campuses, as they share their hearts amidst trials to encourage us in our faith and maturity in Jesus. Invite a friend (you can sit together in Phase 2!) See you there!