James 1:2,3,12 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
When trouble comes into our lives, we tend to ask God, "Why me, Lord? What have I done to deserve this?"
God is not punishing us for something we've done. Some of the godliest people have endured troubles that would cause the average Christian to faint. Troubles have a purpose in the Christian's life: to try and test our faith, to make us more like Christ.
James said we should rejoice when we fall into various testings because the trial of our faith will produce endurance, the ability to stand firm. We must be willing to endure testing until God's purpose is accomplished, that we may become mature and complete in our faith. But we are urged to ask God for wisdom in the midst of our trials, that we may receive the full benefit of them. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) He will show us how to react with humility and faith and how to endure to the end.
God's discipline comes from His love for His people. He wants each of us to grow spiritually and become a lighthouse of blessing to others. His discipline (child-training) is for our own protection, that we may be guarded against a life of lethargy and spiritual weakness. Trials come to teach us something new about God and something about ourselves also.
"But I can't stand the stress!" we often exclaim. Yet God reminds us that there is no temptation (or testing) that is not common to all mankind, and He assures us that He will give us the grace we need to endure it. "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." (1 Corinthians 10:13) Actually, "the strain is the strength" according to Oswald Chambers. He wrote, "If there is no strain, there is no strength. … Immediately when you face the strain, you will get the strength." God cannot give us an increase in our liberty and joy unless we will accept the strain that He sometimes puts into our lives.
God says that the person who endures testing is especially blessed. He will not only receive a deeper relationship with God in this life, but he will also receive a special crown in eternity. When we spend ourselves for others and for God, we get more strength. More life and energy comes to us as we exert our faith in God. Perhaps this is part of the blessing of the "crown of life" God promises. Our life energy grows and expands even in this life as we endure trials.
When we feel crushed with difficulties, we are to rejoice in God. Let us realize that our whole situation is ludicrously impossible to anyone but God. God has put us into this position so we will learn to trust Him more. All that is needed is to ask in faith for wisdom and for strength to carry on day by day. God will take care of the rest. But we are to ask in faith, boldly believing that God will provide what we need. We are not to waver, but to be firm in our faith. Our God is the God of hope.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us steadfastness to endure the trials you have sent our way. We rely on you for wisdom to carry on, knowing that through these trials you will increase our strength. Amen.