Learning from Trials
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. - (James 1:2-4)
It would be nice if we could see the trials in our lives as options, as electives. It would be convenient if we could say, “I’m going to skip the trials course.”
But the fact is, we don’t have that option. Trials will come into the lives of every believer. Notice that James says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” The phrase various trials could also be translated “many-colored trials” or “trials of many kinds.” In other words, no two trials or experiences are necessarily alike.
You will be tested. The question is, will you pass or fail?
We must remember that God never tests us without a reason. God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. God wants to produce a family likeness in us. This means that some difficulties and testings will show us immediate results, while others will produce long-term ones.
There are times when I can emerge from a trial, look back, and say, “I learned this when I went through that experience.” But there will be other times when I come through a difficulty, and all I will be able to do is shake my head and say, “What was that all about?” I may not be able to tell you (at that moment) what I have learned.
But what has happened, maybe unnoticed by me, is that I have become a little bit more like Jesus. He has worked in my life to mold me and shape me into His own image. It may be hard or impossible to point to definitive results in our lives after a time of pressure, setbacks, or testing. Even so, we can know that God is in control. And we can know that His ultimate purpose is to conform us into the image of His own dear Son.
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When God doesn’t make sense, when it seems that He is asleep, when it feels like He doesn’t care, we must remind ourselves of His promises. Going back to God’s promises, we find something that we desperately need in those hard times: perspective.
That eternal perspective is the focus of Dr. James Dobson’s book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, which we’re offering as a thank-you to anyone who gives a gift of support to Harvest Ministries this month.