Trust and Trials
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. James 1:12
Why is this happening to me? When difficulties arise, that’s the first question that enters my mind.
James 1 teaches us that difficulties have two causes: circumstances that we cannot control (v. 2) and desires that we can control through the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 14). The Greek word used in both verse 2 and verse 14 is peirasmos, usually translated either temptation or trial. Peirasmos is “an enticement to sin whether arising from desires or from outward circumstances.”*
So how do I know whether my difficulties are caused by my own sinful desires or if they are just a product of living in a sin-infested world? I ask the Lord for wisdom (v. 5) and I meditate on His Word (vv. 22-25). If the Holy Spirit reveals sins in my life that I need to confess, then I ask for forgiveness. If He doesn’t, then I ask Him to enable me to respond to the adversity in a way that pleases Him.
In either case, I should focus on what I know to be true about God. He loves me and will bless me if I continue to trust Him during adversity (v. 12). God is good. He never allows anything or anyone to enter my life that cannot be used for my eternal benefit (v. 16). He has promised that I will be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4).
James begins his instruction on adversity by telling his readers to “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds” (v. 2). In the midst of excruciating pain—the death of a loved one, a terminal illness, a shattered relationship, financial devastation—it may seem impossible to do that. But biblical joy is not happiness or cheerfulness. Biblical joy is a calm confidence in the character of God that He imparts to those who dwell in His presence (See Psalm 16:11 and John 15:7-11).
If we abide in God’s presence through prayer and Bible study, we’ll see Him more clearly. We’ll understand ourselves more completely. And God will provide the wisdom we need to trust Him in every difficulty we encounter.
Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. How did the Thessalonians respond to the “severe suffering” they experienced? What can we learn from their example?
Read Matthew 4. God permitted the devil to tempt Jesus. How did Jesus respond to those temptations? How can we model His response?
Read Psalm 102. What enabled this psalmist to endure his trials?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by difficulties right now? “Power in Praying the Psalms” can help you talk to God about whatever burden you’re bearing: /resources/1/Praying the Psalms.pdf
Denise K. Loock
*Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for peirasmos (Strong’s 3986)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 4 Nov 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?