WE EMBRACE TESTS WITH JOY.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). That is not our normal response. We either want to avoid trials or, if they come, get through them quickly. If we learn to come with a positive spirit, it will change the process AND the outcome.That’s why we respond with joy when we face them, not finish them. Tests reveal the attitude of our heart. You know me in pain better than in pleasure. A response of joy indicates that we are believing in God more than our circumstances. We are expressing confidence that trials serve His purpose, not the devil’s. Joy says that the trial won’t take us under; God will take us higher. Joy says that we are expecting a good outcome out of a potentially bad situation.
“Whenever”—not “if ever”. We are all going to have tests. (I Peter 5:9; I Cor. 10:13)). “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12). It’s not strange; it is common. Face it with joy!
TESTS ARE OF MANY KINDS.
Why? “…that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (4) We do different exercises for different muscles. Why? To be fully developed. Same with tests.
TESTS DEVELOP CHARACTER.
“You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (3). It is what we know that enables us to embrace tests instead of trying to avoid them. Paul agrees with James: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character…” (Rom. 5:3). The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. People who have developed perseverance live with hope, with eternity in view. They hit the tape running, knowing that the end is not the end.
TESTS CAN CONFUSE. ASK FOR WISDOM.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (5). “…so that no one would be unsettled by these trials” (I Thess. 3:3). Here are some distorted but common messages that we sometimes hear in testing:
God is angry with me. God isn’t listening. God did this to teach me some kind of lesson, but I don’t know what. God is getting even with me for something I did years ago. God is not as good as I thought He was. God causes everything (He doesn’t), and everything is given for a purpose.
Suffering can paralyze us or turn us into victims. Attitude is 90% of the struggle. What if Satan tries to wear you down as he did Job? In all things resist the devil and submit to God. Anchor yourself in His goodness. Tests tempt us to change our picture of God (James 1:13-18). It is not so much what we experience but how we interpret what we experience. Joseph said to unkind brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”`
TESTS PASSED BRING A REWARD.
“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). Crowns speak of victory and authority, an upgrade and a new revelation of God. Pass a test in finances and know better the God of provision. Am I saying to rejoice when trials come? No. God is!! It works. Have at it!