James told us to consider trials as joy because he knows our faith needs testing in order to produce endurance. Once this endurance has had its way we are perfect, whole and lack nothing. What an incredible thing to say.

   The enemy and God have two very different things in mind for the outcome of our trials and temptations. On the one hand the enemy wants us to cave in under the trial, or to fall prey to the temptation, and just go with it. On the other, God wants us to look to him in the face of the trial and seek him for the solution. It is up to us to decide whether we are going to bite, when the tempter entices us, or are we going to look to Christ and say, “I have no ability to fight this, and I’m looking to you for a way out.” Because one of the greatest deceptions we fall for is believing we have the ability to overcome in the flesh.

   Even though the perfecting of the saints has already taken place in one sense (Hebrews 10:14); we are still being conformed to the image of Christ in another. This is where trials come in. It was said of Jesus himself “He learned obedience from the things he suffered” therefore we can’t expect to escape them. What exactly does it mean that Jesus learned obedience through suffering? First of all New Testament obedience is “The obedience of faith” not the obedience to a list of rules.

   Throughout the Gospel of John we read where Jesus says things like, “The Son only does what he sees the Father do; I can do nothing on my own; I live because of the Father; I have not come on my own, the Father sent me; the Father abiding in me does his works, etc. When it comes to obedience what is really meant is we, like Jesus, are to always look to God and let him rescue us from the trial or temptation. The trial is meant to direct our attention toward Christ rather than looking to overcome it on our own–that’s obedience.

   The Apostle Paul understood the positive about the negative. He saw that without the negative things such as persecution, danger and mistreatment of every kind he wouldn’t have come to know the Savior in the intimate way he did. He went as far as to glory in his suffering for Jesus’ sake; because he knew that without joining him in his death he couldn’t experience being joined with him in resurrection.

   As the opposer of our faith the enemy wants us to act as if we are independent of God. God, on the other hand, sees the trial or temptation as a means to open our eyes to the truth of our powerlessness. So each time we find ourselves in a trial we have an option. We can either fight it, in our own self-effort and struggle all the way down, or we can acknowledge our complete dependence upon the Spirit of God to keep us. This is how we count it all joy because we see these difficult situations as God’s way of establishing us in the fullness Christ has already died to make available to us.

   The Apostle Paul had what he called a “Thorn in the flesh; a messenger of Satan” that he eventually came to see as a good thing. God told him “My strength is perfected in weakness” so Paul learned to glory in his weaknesses because he learned human weakness was the way God’s strength became manifest. God loves to show up in situations that are impossible for man because it leaves no room for boasting in anything other than him. So if you want to boast about something “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Written by Louie


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