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whenever you face trials: James 1:2-3
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
It seems to me that, primarily, two sets of factors shape our outlook at any given time:
1. Those which are external: events, forces, people, the economy, the weather, bad news, good news, ….. etc.
2. Those which are internal: physical, mental and spiritual.
I would think there is also a third, quasi-separate from the others, but far from completely unrelated: our world view. More specifically, and first, where did we come from? Created via intelligent design, or a randomly arrived at end result of spontaneous generation? If created, by whom? And once we identify who, does he/she love us? Is there absolute morality, and, if so, who defines it? Is there good and evil? Am I bad or good? How come the world is such a mess?
Depending on that world view, today’s verse might be received in a few different ways. Many of us would consider trials as definite character and capability builders. They certainly toughen us up. If able to withstand the shots and come back, we show up stronger next time. This analysis does not, in the general sense, require faith in God. Simply an illustration of the training effect. When we place an uncharacteristically and intentional heavy load on our muscles, they overcompensate in repairing damaged tissue. Over time, we get bigger and stronger. In life, the analogous process makes us stronger. In many cases, wiser as well.
Now take a bit of a world view spectrum jump, and throw God into the picture. Could it be possible He sees trials we face as negatives becoming positives, growing us into who and what He wishes us to be? Going a step further, could some of these trials not just be allowed, but actually orchestrated by God? Even at times for disciplinary correction, all the while His motive being love with intent for ultimate fellowship and happiness in His presence?
Because of my world view, which is indeed a Biblical one, I truly believe God, at times, brings or allows trials to come upon us to suit His purpose; a purpose, kind of oddly in this context, which is grounded in love. Not so odd I suppose, being that I train, and sometimes discipline, my own children in love.
Note also in today’s verse, the concept of faith, which when brought into the discussion, really completes a quite amazing point. Consider the dynamics in action here: We encounter trials, some of which may be intentionally put in place by God; who, by the way, loves us. Those trials are used as vehicles to exercise our faith, as sometimes the problem seems too big for us and we go to him. Perseverance developed as well, as it can get so tiring. The end result, we are now stronger, as is our relationship with and faith in God.
Some of us out there today reading (and writing) this are going through trials. That coupled with friends and family who are enduring likewise. It can seem like an avalanche, no relief or escape. Be of strong faith, as outlined above. Tonight let’s try to go to sleep in peace, knowing God is bigger than our problems. I’m going to watch some TV with my wife and thank God for being my friend, and for the fact I have a place to lay my head tonight. Get a good night’s sleep and take it day to day.
I guess point of view makes all the difference. We cannot control what happens, only how we handle it. And handling it becomes much easier if an awesome and powerful God is there to help.