“Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2) This statement may seem to some believers to be oxymoronic, to be happy and joyful when temptations, trials and tribulations assail us, to see them with an attitude of acceptance, but that is exactly what we are told to do. All three of these tend to always start with a negative connotation in our daily lives, “Oh great, the car won’t start,” “Wonderful, just what I wanted, a severe cold right before vacation,” or how about, “The light bulbs burned out again.”
We would rather live a life of ease, not having to experience, at least on a personal level, any difficulties whatsoever, the sun is always shining, our health is continuously fine, and all the world around us is at peace. Not going to happen, my friends, and that is a promise from Almighty God Himself. “It is impossible but that offences will come…” (Luke 17:1) and this is just one of many, many places in the Scriptures where we are promised that our walk with Him will be anything but easy, expect difficulties, expect sorrow. Anyone who says that these statements are false is teaching the false doctrine of prosperity theology, where they will claim that if you are sick, poor, or in any other type of calamity, then you are out of the Will of God, this is a lie, and a deceiving trick of Satan.
It would be nice, wouldn’t it, to never have to deal with anything out of the ordinary, no negative connotations of any kind whatsoever in this life, perhaps the death of a beloved pet or an aged relative, but never to experience the loss of a child or a spouse, to never hear the word ‘cancer’ in relationship to your own life, to never suffer the consequences of a horrific accident, or while we are at it, even a common cold. This is the lie that the adversary is gaining ground on in this world today, one that says that Jesus loves you so much that He will never let anything ‘bad’ happen to you, and if something does happen, well then, you must have committed some very serious sin. It places the blame directly on God for our own mistakes, and it is His fault for not letting us do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it. An avenging God who just sits up there in heaven and waits for us to screw up so He can punish us.
Do you think that Job would have still said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” (Job 13:15) if our Lord would not have restored to him what he had allowed to be taken, and much more. Do you believe that he would have said these words if God would have allowed him to die two weeks after the ‘trial’ was completed, honoring His Holy Name right up until his very last breath, can you say these words on a sunny day when all is going well, “though He slay me.”
It has been my observation over the last few years that when the car will not start in the morning, when a hard rain begins to fall when an outdoor event is planned, when a birthday gift doesn’t arrive on time, many Christians seem to call these ‘various trials’. Walking past the donut shop and not stopping or a commercial on the television that shows us something we really would like to have, is called a ‘divers temptation,’ and tribulation seems to be a bout with a common cold, or a printer that has run out of ink. We have brothers and sisters dying for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ all around this sinful planet every day, and many that I hear are complaining about their air-conditioner not working, and some of these consider themselves mature Christians.
Please read this statement that I gleaned from “Strong’s Concordance,” “God test that He might determine and sharpen true character, with no focus on making the believer fail.” Are so many of us so far down on the scale of perfection that we have to begin our testing from the Lord with a car that won’t start or an air conditioner that quits, I would say yes, if that person is a babe in Christ, but not for the one who considers themselves mature. These trials are meant to draw us closer to the Lord, and are meant for His Glory, a glory that we are to esteem to Him because of the trials, yet many today see them as a burden at the least, and at the most a punishment from our Lord. Perhaps it is why these individuals have never really grown in their faith, why they have remained ‘babes meant only for the milk of the word’ for so long, for how can one ever expect to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ if when a trial comes their way, they shun it, hide from it, and seek only solace in the misery they see in it.
These trails are never trivial, and I dare say that the Lord God designs them specifically for each one of His children, to take them from where they are to exactly where He wants them to be, the problem seems to be, at least in my eyes, they don’t want to go there, they are content to stay in the sheepfold where it is relatively safe, not wanting to experience the growth that He desires for them. For these He is gracious beyond all comprehension, for He allows them to remain in a place that they consider safe, the trials slowly ebb away, the temptations become more and more difficult to handle spiritually, and their faith, though true to His Holy Name, stops its forward momentum, and as those spoken of in Hebrews 5:13, they live a life unskillful in the word of righteousness willingly.
The trials that our Lord sends and allows to come into our lives are nearly always life changing, and they develop in the heart of the willing and mature believer an awe and deep reverence for Him. He sends them because He loves us and desires that we grow closer to Him and His purpose for our lives through them, they are not, and never are chastisement, they are for our continued growth so that we may praise His name with even greater fervency. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, how we handle these trials is how the lost interpret our faith in Christ, and rest assured they are watching every move you make and every word you say during them. If you are morose and downtrodden during them, they will see it as a weak and wavering faith, if you receive them with joy, not happiness, but joy, then His name will be glorified, and your witness will be true, and perhaps then they will listen, and your opportunity to witness for Christ will have gained a strong foothold.
We must pray earnestly for His assistance in endurance and assistance in these times, not for ourselves only, for our continued growth, but so that our witness for Him will be seen as one of fact and of a true faith in His Name.
We suffer with Him when we endure trials and temptations with joy, knowing that they are for His Glory and His alone.