Joy and Patience in Trials

I have trials and everyone I know has trials.  So I’m pretty confident that you have trials too.  Here is what James wrote about trials.  James 1:2-4 “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 tells you to count it all joy when you fall into various trials.  How can you have joy when you have trials?  I think there are two ways that you can have joy.  First, you can have joy in the sense of being cheerful instead of complaining.  When they experience a trial, most people want to tell everyone how bad they have it.  It seems that they want you to feel their pain or at least be sympathetic to them by listening to them complain.  But a Christian should not be a complainer.  Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  You will be a light in the world if you have joy (cheerfulness) when you experience trials.  God knows what your trials and needs are without you telling Him (Matthew 6:8).  A Christian trusts in God and appreciates that He is in control.

The second way you can have joy is to be happy in the knowledge that your trials will make you into a better person.  I believe that God works in your life to make you what He wants you to be.  Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  If you let God, He will use trials to perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.  1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

Trials test your faith in God.  God has allowed your trials to come into your life, but He can deliver you.  Do you trust Him?   The apostle Paul had experienced severe trials.  2 Corinthians 1:8-11 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.  Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.”  Trials should cause you to trust more in God to give you the wisdom on how to deal with your trials as you seek His deliverance.

James says that trials produce patience.  Of course, you could be impatient.  You could blame others, get angry, seek some way of taking vengeance, or you could give up and quit.  But the proper response to trials is patience.  It is acceptable to seek wisdom in dealing with your trials and to seek solutions for them.  But patience means that you endure your trials calmly and without complaint.  It is commendable before God to suffer patiently when the trial is not your fault.  1 Peter 2:20 “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.”  Patience in your trials is what God wants.

James continues by saying “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  I understand this to say that when you endure your trials calmly and without complaint, and you remain faithful and let God do His work in you, you will become the mature, complete Christian that God wants you to be.

James has more to say about patience in James 5:7-11 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”  Patience is not a one-time thing for just one trial.  You need to be patience in all of your trials and let patience become a way of life.  Then patience becomes endurance and perseverance.  The Old Testament has many examples of suffering and patience.  We have the examples of the prophets of the Lord.  Perhaps the greatest example we have is the man Job that we read about in the book of Job.  After he had suffered and persevered, God greatly blessed Job.  In the same way, God will be compassionate and merciful to you when you have joy, patience, and perseverance in your trials.

My encouragement to you is given in the words of James.  James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”