Turning a Trial into Triumph- Part 1 (Our Response)April 3, 2017
Job 14:1 states, “Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” In short, life is the quickest of quandaries. A year, a decade, a century, and it’s gone. Life is a gift, be sure, but it requires guts, grit, and a lot of grace to get through it. Adversity is part of the journey, and adversity for the believer is often how God chooses to manifest His grace. As Jerry Bridges said, “God uses adversity to loosen our grip on those things that are not true fruit.” Loosening the grip leads to joy and gladness, but it often requires the crowbar of contrition on the part of God.
Everybody is Going through Something
The tragedy, therefore, is not going through a trial…rather, it is going through a trial without learning anything from it. James, the half-brother of Jesus said, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Two fundamental truths immediately arise from this text: One, “brethren” face trials; and two, it’s not “if” we face trials, it is “when” we face trials. Therefore, believers, all believers, will inevitably endure some sort of affliction. If I have learned anything through my two decades of ministry it is that everyone is going through something. James wrote to believers who were being imprisoned, beaten, persecuted, scattered, and alienated because of their faith. Your trial may not be to that extent, but it is nonetheless real and personal. So, the question is not whether or not we will ever face a trial, we will, and we do. What is in question is: how do we respond when we fall into such divers temptations?
You Don’t Have to Enjoy It
To this point James simply said, “count it all joy.” I will admit, this is not the natural response. “Count it all joy” when the medical report reads cancer? “Count it all joy” when you lose your job? “Count it all joy” when your house is foreclosed? Seriously, how are we supposed to do this?
Let’s not get confused here. The believer is not required to ENJOY his trial, he is only admonished to find JOY IN his trial. This is done, by in large, when our attitude is aligned with the proper understanding of God’s character. God is good, God is right, God is sovereign. Therefore, nothing comes into our lives that is not filtered through these realities of Who God is. Therefore, because God is good, right, and sovereign, then whatever trial befalls me must be working for my benefit and my development.
Whatever God allows into our lives is His prerogative; however we respond to His divine workings is our responsibility. I don’t have to enjoy cancer to find joy in the sickness. I don’t have to be excited about losing my job to experience joy in the loss. I don’t have to be thrilled about losing my home to be insulated with joy. I am just instructed to “count it all joy.”
Count it All Joy
The truth is “joy” derives from the same Greek word that gives us the word “grace.”And herein is the reason we can count it all joy…trials have a built-in infrastructure of divine grace. God did not eliminate Paul’s thorn; on the contrary, He used the thorn to provide sufficient grace (joy). God did not prevent Lazarus from dying, instead He visited Him with resurrection power. God did not keep Job from hellish heartbreak, but He did develop patience as He restored his servant with twice as much as he originally possessed. He will not keep adversity from our lives, but He will keep all of His promises in the process! The truth is, we can count it all joy in our trials because that is EXACTLY what God provides – joyful grace and graceful joy. The Lord often uses the tears of adversity to water the harvest of your provision…the kind of fruit that gets you through the most wintry seasons of life.