“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” -James 1:2-3
God says through the Apostle James to count it all joy when we meet trials, because this tests our faith and that testing of our faith produces steadfastness. In a recent post, I talked about the word steadfast. It means to be unwavering – fixed or firm in a direction or purpose. In the context of this verse, it means the testing that happens through our trials produces unwavering faith within us.
As Christians, our ultimate desire should be to know and love God more deeply and grow to be more grounded in Him and His Word, whatever the cost. So, from a purely logical standpoint, if trials produce a more grounded, fixed and firm faith, we absolutely can be joyful in trials. But of course, that’s easier said than done.
This kind of joy does not mean we ignore, deny, and avoid our circumstances or suppress emotions of grief and sadness. It means that in the midst of our pain and suffering, we are able to see God’s presence. We are able to trust that God will bring good from our suffering (as He promises in Romans 8:28), that He empathizes with us through His Son, and is actively engaged in the midst of our trials. This type of trust strengthens our foundation in Christ and it’s oftentimes in the most challenging circumstances that we are able to see God do His greatest works.
A woman in my small group shared an amazing story recently, which she gave me permission to share. Her mom was a strong believer and my friend was right there with her as she breathed her last breaths. In those moments, she experienced God’s grace in the most profound way. The reality of the Gospel hit her: Though we are completely unworthy sinners, out of His great love for us, God the Father sent His Son to die the death we deserved and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven, declared blameless in the eyes of God, promising all who put their faith in Jesus will receive eternal life in His presence. As my friend watched her mom pass away, she was overcome with the reality that we are all deserving of hell, but by grace, through faith, her mom would get to leave her suffering and be with Jesus forever. This realization grounded my friend’s faith in such a significant way. There was and still is deep sadness over her loss, but she said she has not experienced God’s peace and grace like that since – she wishes she could, but she also would never want to go through that suffering again.
This is such a beautiful example of this verse lived out. We do not rejoice in the loss of loved ones, a terminal diagnosis, an unfaithful spouse, a home foreclosure, a wayward child, crippling mental illness, or whatever your trials may be. But as we mourn, we can still have hope, knowing that by grace through faith, we are not only promised eternal life and forgiveness of sin (though that in itself would be enough), we can cling to God’s promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that Jesus empathizes with our pain, that He will bring good from the darkest circumstances, and that He will use this testing of our faith to produce unwavering faith within us.
So, dear sister (or brother) in Christ, whatever you are going through right now, no matter how dark and numerous the trials in your life may be, God sees you. He is right here with you, actively at work in your circumstances and the deepest places of your heart to produce steadfast faith within you. Cling to Him in prayer and His Word, worship Him, and trust He is good, His character unchanging, and that He is faithful to every one of His promises.
If you are still wrestling with a past trial, struggling to see where God was in the midst of it, tell Him. Ask Him to reveal where He was, to show you His goodness and faithfulness through it, and to bring you peace that surpasses all understanding. It may take time, but keep seeking Him and worshipping Him as you wrestle. He hears you. 🖤
HEBREWS 10:23 | Remain grounded in Christ. He is faithful to His promises.
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