Last night I took a long walk with a friend, and she shared some things that are going on in her life that are difficult and discouraging. I encouraged her to be patient and trust the Lord in her circumstances, and prayed with her and left feeling thankful that she seemed much happier after our conversation. But I couldn’t get our conversation out of my mind for the next several hours.
Because I felt like a hypocrite.
When I go through difficult circumstances, I sometimes struggle to be encouraged. I don’t always seek counsel and community, I often sit alone and journal for hours—asking the Lord what He’s doing, begging Him to let the trial pass. Or I complain and vent to my friends and feel hurt, angry, and abandoned by God.
The fact is that as I’m sitting here writing this post, there are so many hard things happening in the lives of loved ones, and in my own life as well. So many things that are impossible to understand from our limited human understanding, and that leave us wondering why? What is God doing??
Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. | James 1:3
The Bible is clear that
we WILL go through trials
and that our faith WILL be tested.
And it seems like James is trying to motivate and cheer us up by reminding us that eventually the testing of our faith will produce patience.
When life presses down hard on us, when the pressure gets too intense, we start looking for ways to escape. All too frequently, we’re tempted to be angry, bitter, or even mad at God—or anyone else we can blame our problems on. Or we’re tempted in trials to become discouraged and fall into sin and then try to justify our actions because of our circumstances.
Thankfully, James reminds us that God has a purpose in mind when He allows trials to press down on us. Like turning coals into diamonds, some things only happen under a lot of pressure. Allowing us to go through intense pressure-ful situations is how God tests our faith in order to make us perfect and complete.
As an optimistic child, I really thought that one day my life would be all rainbows and roses. And I think I’m at times tempted to believe that still, but the truth is that there is no person on earth who doesn’t experience trouble.
The matter in question is not IF you will face trials;
it’s how you will respond to the trials that WILL come.
When they come, look to God and you will see that He shows Himself to us more profoundly in our trials, and this changes everything. To place our confidence in Him—really believing it doesn’t matter if everything is perfect here because this world is not our home—makes us look past the things of this world and fills us with a longing to be with our Heavenly Father.
This suffering is temporary and will refine us. It will accomplish our purpose while we’re here for a short time on earth.
If you’re suffering and hurting today, Christian—you must pray. I must pray. We must pray together for eyes of faith, and for steadfast hearts. We must look to Jesus in our trials, asking God for the faith to know that He is in the fire with us, and the joy to believe that the very fact that He is is enough.
One day, we will see the Lord Jesus with unveiled faces and we will know then that it was worth it.