“ Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)
The bible likes to turn our expectations upside down. Trials equal pain and pain equals avoid and even loathe. Not joy. Right? Trials often mean sorrow and suffering and other things we’d much rather not go through and even would not wish on our worst enemy. But James gives a really good reason we should see joy in trials. To put it another way, the saying is “growing pains”, not “growing pleasures.”
It’s in the seasons of trial that we see the most spiritual growth. It’s in the difficult times we learn to trust God and lean on him for strength. In trials, we will either abandon God, or learn to follow him and say “not my will, but yours be done” no matter what comes. And, let’s face it, most of us need a certain level of ouch to figure out “don’t do that.” And the things God’s saying “don’t do that” about separate us from Him–and each other.
God doesn’t test us to see what the outcome will be. He knew whether our grade was pass or fail from the start. The goal of the trial is in the journey itself–our growing into a mature faith that is immovable, unchangeable, firm in our convictions and absolutely loyal to Him. (Thank you, m-w.com, for that definition of steadfast.)
Lord, when life turns upside down, we’re glad we can bring our sorrow and hurt to you. We rejoice that we can depend upon you no matter what happens in life. Teach us, Lord, to also look to the end of the trial, and to seek the joy of the positive growth and spiritual blessings only you can bring through the pain. Only you, oh God, can turn our mourning into dancing. We look forward to that joyous day and know we can count on it.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.