By Jim Sukup
I love the sermon series “Plain James.” James has always been my favorite book in the Bible, because it’s named after me. (You believe that don’t you?) James starts off talking about something we all know about, “trials”. The bad news is that trials are a fact of life, they affect everyone, and we will encounter them as long as we walk this earth. The good news is that scripture gives us plenty of real life examples of others who navigated through the same kind of trials we experience, and it also gives us insight into the workings and outcomes of trials.
First James tells us we should consider it “pure joy” whenever we face trials. Have you ever tried telling somebody that they should be joyful when they were going through a serious trial? It doesn’t go over very well, believe me!
Yet James tells his Jewish and Christian brethren this after they have been scattered into other nations, persecuted, and impoverished. Doesn’t sound like a good time to me. James can say this because the joy is not in the trial but in what is being accomplished through the trial.
The Bible says trials build a foundation for us to become mature and complete. If we understand that something is being developed in our lives we can have the right attitude about trials. Joy doesn’t make the trial go away but it makes carrying on much easier.
In addition to James, the book of Job also addresses the issue of trials. The only words that can describe Job’s trial are words like horrible, tragic, terrible, and devastating. Even these words cannot begin to describe what he went through.
I can confidently say that I have never, ever, heard of anyone even coming close to going through a trial like Job’s! If you think you are going through a trial that is setting new standards, please read the book of Job. The good news is not only did Job survive the trial but it also clearly tells us that God was aware of what was going on and gave back to Job double what he had lost. Romans 8:28 tells us that God takes the worst situations that we experience and turns them around for our good.
The last thing I will leave you with is that no trial goes on forever. I looked throughout the Bible but couldn’t find anybody that suffered an endless trial. All too often Christians going through trials complain, try to get out of the situation or wallow in self-pity. The only thing these responses accomplish is to prolong the trial. Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell… keep going!”
When you go through a trial don’t stop to take pictures… keep moving forward with purpose and the knowledge that God will see you through.