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Category: James

When You Meet Trials

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4, ESV)

In reading through James 1 this morning I found myself lingering over the word “when” in the second verse. The thing that strikes me about this word is that it’s not “if”. In other words, it’s not a matter of if you encounter trials but rather when. You will encouter trials.

It’s interesting when I consider how people like to refer to the Bible as a “map” or a “guidebook” for life. Typically, you leverage a map or guidebook to identify the best (easiest and fastest) way to get to your destination. When I open the Waze app on my phone every morning and enter in my office address as the destination, I select the route that has the least amount of traffic and slowdowns. I avoid the routes that will cause my commute to be longer or more painful than it needs to be.

Here in James, we are are not told how we can avoid trials. We’re simply told to expect them and we’re told how to respond when we encounter them. We’re to “count it all joy”. These trials of various kinds are helpful in testing our faith and building up our endurance to persevere through this life as we are continually being sanctified and becoming more and more like Jesus each day.

It may not be the easiest path. But it is worth it. For our good and His glory.

Fear of tomorrow

We were joined by a new guy last week at the men’s Bible study that I attend. When it came time for prayer requests at the end of our meeting, he asked that we pray for him to be delivered from a spirit of fear because he had been struggling with a fear of the future. Although I’m not the best at being faithful to regularly pray for the guys in my group throughout the week, I was reminded of this particular guy this morning while doing my daily Bible reading. It was this verse in the book of James that brought him to mind:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
James 4:13-14 (emphasis mine)

I wonder how much of our fear is borne from the realization of how little control we have over our lives. I wonder how much of our fear is based on the unknown?

Although I could certainly speculate and come up with some reasonable hypotheses, the reality is that I don’t know the answer to those questions. I don’t have the data. But here’s what I do know (or at least what I can recall off the top of my bald head):

  • We are told to not be anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)
  • We are told to not be anxious about provision of our basic needs (Matthew 6:25-33)
  • In fact, we are told to not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6)
  • We are also told that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)

I’m sure if I was to search the scriptures, I could find many more relevant and applicable verses that speak to this idea of fear and anxiety. The point is, God did not give His people a spirit of fear and timidity but rather a spirit of power, love, and self-control. We are not to fear the future but rather we are to trust in the sovereign God who allows the future to happen – the One who knows every one of our days before it is allowed to happen.

If we ever find ourselves struggling with fear, it’s probably an indication that we have trust issues that should be resolved first. Personally, I find it easier to trust people I know and who have proven themselves to be trustworthy. If you get to know God by looking into His word and spend time communing with Him in prayer, I guarantee you will not find anyone who compares to His trustworthiness, faithfulness, and lovingkindness. He is worthy not only to be trusted but to be greatly praised.

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