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
I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled with James. In the midst of trials, I don’t want to be joyful. I don’t want to be grateful. I just want to be out.
The problem becomes that I run into the issue of praying out of a situation rather than praying through it. I beg for an escape, a deadline, a way out of whatever mess I find myself in. And when I don’t get my way, when I find that the trial is going longer than I would wish, I complain. I ask God why He wants me to suffer. I get frustrated that every door or opportunity I try to wrench open won’t budge.
And each time, I get not so gentle reminders of God’s grace and goodness, of His timing and perfection, of His love and mercy. My most recent trial has sent me back to James; the words echoing in my head that these trials are not without purpose and that I am not meant to rely on my own strength.
I am reminded as I read those words, that I should not be praying out of a situation, because by doing that, I’m telling God that I know better. I’m telling God what He should be doing. Rather than stopping and listening to His will, gleaning that sought after patience and endurance, I am running blindly for any door, window, crack that may give me relief. The focus becomes me-centric and causes even further discomfort and dissatisfaction. Relief can be found in focusing on God, instead of focusing on the problem.
Instead of asking God why He won’t help us out, ask what we can learn from the trial.
Instead of asking God why me, ask who should we be reaching through this.
Instead of asking God how long we must endure the trail, ask how we can use this for His glory.
Instead of focusing on how we can fix it, let us focus on how God can use us through it.
Sometimes what we want, even if it is wholly good, isn’t what we need. And by thirsting after it, we no longer thirst after God. Scripture reminds us over and over again: There is a purpose to the hard times. There is a purpose behind the closed doors. We are not alone. Let us take the words of James as a comfort, so when the trials do come, we can receive the crown of life.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. -James 1:12