Trials. A subject that you see all across the Bible and one that I could write and write on, but I want to make it short and simple. This past week, my church went through James 1:2-18, which is filled with rich stuff. I’d encourage you to read it. This text completely opposes the absurd view of a prosperity gospel, which essentially says that “you will be blessed with financial wealth and health if you just have enough faith in God.” The reality is that we will face trials and James goes so far to say “count it all joy” when you do face them. James does not say if you face trials, he says when you face trials of various kinds. So that includes any trial, and no trial is too big or small for God. The Bible is not a fantasy picture of life, it’s a picture of the reality that we live in.
In the 21 years of my life so far, I have experienced inevitable trials as we all do. The point of this post isn’t really to tell you what they are or to compare whether mine are “larger” or “smaller” although I often tend to compare mine to others (which is not beneficial or healthy). The point in this is to say that I whole-heartedly believe it is through trials and temptation and doubt that I have experienced God’s grace in Jesus all the more, than if I did not experience trials. Trials are not trite and meaningless. They are used to make us aware of our need for a Savior outside of ourselves. They are meant to cause us to ask God for wisdom, and to say in our doubt, “I believe, help my unbelief!” God honors that fight. But often times, I try to depend on myself to get through something or I keep my eyes focused on me rather than Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God doesn’t just command believers to count it joy when they face trials just because. He does it because it makes Christ that much sweeter to us when we do. We have freedom to be weak because Christ is strong.
I get to freely tell you guys that I struggle often. Why? Because it displays that although I struggle, Christ does not. It’s only by his power that I am made strong, not my own. If I were strong and self-sufficient, I would have no need to rely on Christ, but it is humbling to know that I do need to depend on him. I struggle with doubt, fear, and depression often, and yet in those things, I fully believe that I am being rooted in steadfastness. James 1:3-4 says “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That doesn’t mean I will no longer sin; it means that as I mature, I am being made perfect because of Christ’s strength in me, not my own.
Friends, please know that in your struggle and trials, you can run freely to Jesus. Remember that it will look gritty and you won’t have it all together. You don’t have to have it all together. You’ll stumble along the way and that is okay. He allows us to struggle so that we might cling to him. If you are in Christ, all the disgust that you have for yourself (in your sin, struggle, and doubts) has been absorbed by Jesus on the cross. The cross is his message to you that he will never leave you or forsake you if you have believed in Christ as your Savior. James 1:18 says “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth…” It was God’s idea to send Jesus and to bring salvation. This is good news because before you were born, he knew that he would go to the cross and fulfill your sin. He doesn’t regret saving you and his saving work is not dependent on what you do, but what he has done. We didn’t choose God, he chose us because he actively made a way for the ultimate end of separation between us and him. Trust that he is sufficient in your weakness and trials. And where you doubt, ask God for wisdom and for belief that he is sufficient. He is fighting for you and he honors the fight in struggling well. Be encouraged and press into Christ when you face trials.
For His glory,