August 28, 2017
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Are we supposed to ask God “Why? ” when hard trials come our way? Too often I have heard it said, “Don’t ask why; don’t question God! Just accept it.” But our featured Scripture says something different! Here is James 1:2 through 5:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing
that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have
its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally
and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
In Friday’s blog, we saw the major trials that the early followers of Jesus Christ were experiencing:
• They were excommunicated from the synagogue! (See John 9:22). They were cut off from the religious, social, and business life of Jewish society!
• They were under severe persecution, led by Saul of Tarsus! (See Acts 8:1; 9:1, 2; 26:10, 11).
• They may have been experiencing devastating drought and famine! (See Acts 11:27, 28).
So when James tells his readers to “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials…,” these believers were undergoing extensive trials!
Now trials, for the most part, are not joyous occasions! What does James mean when he says to “…count it all joy…”? It is actually a book keeping term. In keeping a ledger at the most elementary level, you have two types of entries – debit entries and credit entries! James is saying to mark down any trial we are experiencing as Christians in the credit column of the ledger! Trials don’t feel good! They don’t seem good! Too often they are downright painful! However, God is doing a good work through those trials, and so we can mark it down in the credit column, on the plus side!
What good work is God doing through trials? It is a three-fold work directed to one grand aim:
• Trials test our faith! (verse 3). This is obvious. In Hebrews 11:1 we are told:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen….But without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is
a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Faith lays hold of the unseen! It gives substance to that for which we hope! Few people claim to have seen God. Few have been to heaven and returned (some who have experienced dying and then have been revived say they received a taste of heaven.) But for most of us, God and the things of God remain largely hoped for and not seen! But if our faith is made strong, these unseen things become very real! (See Romans 10:17; 12:3; Colossians 2:7; I Thessalonians 5:8; II Thessalonians 1:3; I Timothy 4:6; 6:11; II Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 12:2; 13:7; James 2:17, 18 to help understand how faith is initiated and built up). Just as any physical muscle in our bodies by regular exercise is made stronger, so our faith is strengthened through dealing with trials!
• “…the testing of…our faith produces patience.” (verse 3). What is patience? The Greek word is υʽπομονή (pronounced hoop-om-on-ay’ ). In Thayer’s Greek Definitions, we are told, “…the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety even by the greatest trials and sufferings.” In trials of our faith, patience is produced – unless we utterly fall apart and quit believing!
• “But let patience have its perfect work….” (verse 4). Through patience, we keep bearing up under trials without complaint! This bearing up is its perfect work because such patience is what God practices!
✞ Commenting on the days leading up to the great flood of Genesis 7 and 8, Paul writes in Romans 9:22 (Contemporary English Version), concerning corrupted and sinning humankind: “God wanted to show His anger and reveal His power against everyone who deserved to be destroyed. But instead, He patiently put up with them…” for 120 years while the ark was being built! (See Genesis 6:3).
✞ Peter wrote in II Peter 3:9 (Lexham English Bible) about the second coming of the Lord Jesus being delayed: “The Lord is not delaying the promise, as some consider slowness, but is being patient toward you, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”
So, in learning and practicing patience, we are becoming more and more like God, revealed in Jesus Christ! (See John 14:7).
• The end result is that we “…may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (verse 4). And Who is the only One who is perfect and complete, lacking nothing? Jesus Christ! We are to be made more and more like Jesus!
✞ Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
✞ II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
And, by the way, in Hebrews 2:10 we are told, “…it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory [us], to make the author of their salvation perfect [complete] through sufferings.” Jesus was made complete through His sufferings, because we were redeemed and added to His Body, the Church! (See I Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22, 23; 5:29-32).
So that’s what trials endured with patience will do in our lives! In the next blog, we will consider the question we often desire to ask when in a trial – “Why? ”