Open your bible to James 1 if you want to follow along, or use the handy links to read the verses. To start off, I want to define “trials” as it will be used in this context. When we talk about “trials” we are referring to the hard times, struggles, and rough spots in our lives. Some examples of trials that we all face could include: Trying to study for a test when we simply don’t understand the material, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, or losing a loved one. More generally, anytime we say “Geez God, this is really hard. Why can’t you just make this easier for me?” is considered a trial.
The argument that most people use is “Why would a good God let his people suffer so much with hard times?”. The reality is, trials are inevitable for EVERYONE and James 1:2 tells us that when we reach these trials in our lives that we should face them with JOY. Joy?! You mean to tell me that when something is really hard and frustrating the mess out of me, that I am supposed to be HAPPY about it? The only people that are HAPPY when pain comes are either 1.) CrAzY! or 2.) know that something good is coming. Ben used an excellent example. Consider lifting weights in the gym. People don’t walk around in the gym pouting and complaining because their muscles are sore from working out. They are pumped about it (literally). The reason is because they know after the pain of lifting weights, they will be stronger. They will be better. Since James instructs us to rejoice in our trials, that MUST mean something good is coming. For the college students, think about this. Why do we spend hours on end studying, doing homework, and going to class? We are not going to use half the stuff we learn in our classes EVER again. We know that and guess what, so do our professors. So whats the point? Because when our future employer sees that nice degree, they will KNOW that we went through some serious trials to get to where we are now and that we have the STRENGTH, ENDURANCE, and the WISDOM to make it through them and anything else that comes our way (see James 1:12)
That is exactly why God puts us through trials in our lives. So that we can develop strength, endurance, and wisdom. Just as our parents put us through trials as a kid. They do it to make us better people. They do not do it to inflict pain on us and make us hurt, they do it because we need the wisdom and the endurance. Read James 1:3-4 God puts you in situations you don’t know how to handle on purpose. The only catch is, you have to ASK God to teach you in your trials. Read James 1:5-6. If you do not ask God to speak to you and teach you anything, you won’t gain anything from your hard times but bitterness.
As a last point, Ben pointed out three things that we learn from this wisdom that God tries to teach us through our trials. My challenge to you is to reflect on these three points, and when you face trials and struggles in your life ask God to show you these.
1.) Wisdom keeps you from putting your hopes and dreams in things that simply fade away.
2.) Wisdom teaches you that pain is very real, but it is only temporary.
3.) Wisdom teaches you to turn your head upward toward God. To depend on him, instead of looking down at the ground sulking because something is harder than you want it to be.
Read James 1:1-12 for more on this topic. Leave comments on what you have learned, or what you agree/disagree with.