Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I lack in a lot of things in life. I really do. My pride always needs a check mate sometimes from the Lord, and I welcome it with open arms…even when it hurts. I lack patience with people who talk too much. I lack patience with special needs people (that sounds horrible for a pastor to admit I know). Though I am a very intuitive person, I still lack the ability to see around blind spots in my life, and I need men around me to point them out. I sometimes lack “looking to the interest of others” as Philippians 2 says. And most importantly, I sometimes lack faith! I always want to get better at having faith! However I can’t do that alone! The truth is, my lack of faith needs testing. And so does yours!
Growing up, pop quizzes were the worst! You never knew when they were coming! However, the teacher would always give you a schedule of when each test was so you could be prepared for when it comes. I put emphasis on when because the book of James is clear when it comes to our own spiritual testing. James says “when troubles of any kind come your way…” Trials are assumed in this text. So in all honesty, suffering should surprise no one. Not only should suffering not surprise us, but “any kind” of suffering shouldn’t surprise us. It is to test our faith. So what is it?
Any kind could mean…
- You’re going through or have been through a divorce
- Someone in your family or a close friend may have died
- You just went through a broken relationships (romantic or friendship)
- Persecution in another country for being a follower of Jesus
- Maybe most recently your house just flooded
- You struggle with anxiety and it’s a weight you are constantly fighting.
- And Etc.
James also says to “consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing (some translations say lacking) nothing.”
How in the world do we make trials an opportunity for great joy? In other words, how can we make the best it knowing we will go through it?
I want to give you three ways we can make the best of it. Mind you these aren’t three points to make your life better or three ways to get out of it easier. These are three ways on how you can go through it with the best in mind.
- Don’t Curse God: While crying out to the Father is essential during our times of pain and sorrow, the worst thing we can do is curse Him. When Job lost his family and all his cattle, he may have cursed the day he was born, but he coined one of the greatest phrases we all use until bad stuff happens to us, “God giveth, and God taketh away.” He never cursed God. Cursing God for what he allows is sin. While it is so hard not to ask God “why” it is far different than blaming God for what happens to us in life. WE believe that “all things work for the good of those who love him and are called according to His good purpose.” I believe that we sometime don’t know this better than when we are facing tough times in life. God is good, and He is not to be cursed.
- Look to God’s promises not at your circumstances attack: James promotes a promise in this text for those who make the best of it: “When your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow…for when endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect (mature) and complete, needing nothing.” There’s a promise that God will make you better not bitter. However we must not look at what or who is attacking us, but to the Father who provides all good and perfect things for our good! God makes us stronger in our weakness. But our attitude must be to make the best of it for growth.
- Use your circumstance to be brought to the feet of Jesus: “So let it grow…” James says. Sometimes we have to be brought low to experience Jesus like we have never experienced him before. God sometimes breaks us to make us. That is brilliant in theory, but we must let our trials of any kinds bring us to the feet of Jesus to experience this truth. We cast our cares on Jesus. We become more honest with Jesus. We allow Jesus to rule and reign in us instead of us as finite beings trying to make it better on our own. But we can’t do it alone. Let it grow by letting Him Work.
Jesus saves, Jesus sustains, Jesus serves, and Jesus sanctifies. He can help you make the best of it. Don’t curse him, love him. Don’t let your circumstance dictate his love for you, look to his loving promises. Don’t run away from Jesus, fall to his feet!