“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 (NIV)
I clearly remember watching TV when I was a young boy growing up in Baltimore. From time to time the normal programming would be interrupted by a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Then I would hear a loud, annoying noise for 30 or 60 seconds. I used to hate those tests because they always seemed to come at the worst time — just when you didn’t want the show to be interrupted. And since there was never any advance warning the test was coming, there was no way you could avoid it. The station just broke in and did its test.
The setbacks of life are like that. They often come with no warning, just the announcement: “This is a test.” There’s often nothing to warn you that the doctor is coming back with a bad report or that your company is downsizing. Life’s setbacks just show up at the most inopportune times.
We see throughout Scripture that trials are an inevitable reality in life, and we read imperatives like this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Notice the Bible does not say if you encounter trials, but when. Trials are inescapable.
Trials are difficulties we inevitably run into as part of life, not necessarily the problems we create for ourselves. Those kinds of problems are called sin. So if you’re going through a tough time right now, don’t be surprised. If you have just exited a trial, don’t be shocked when the next one arrives. Trials come with living in an imperfect world.
Trials come in a multitude of colors, shapes and sizes. So, since we can’t avoid them, what should we do with them? How can we turn a setback into a comeback? The Bible gives us three instructions on how to respond to trials:
Recognize the Joy: When trials come, instead of getting mad, get glad, because you know God is up to something good in your life. “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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). This does not mean you have to hide the pain of a trial or pretend the pain feels good. The Bible does not say we need to feel joyful during a trial, but to consider that trial all joy.
Ask for Wisdom: God urges us to ask for His help during trials. James goes on to tell us to ask God, and He will freely and generously give us His wisdom. (James 1:5) The Bible promises a generous supply of God’s wisdom in answer to your prayer so you will know how to navigate successfully through the trial until you’ve reached its intended goal.
Give God Praise: James’ third piece of advice is to give God praise. We are to praise God no matter what our situation. (James 1:9-11) Give glory to God. He will lift you to a high position at the right time, and He will humble you when you need humbling. Give Him praise either way because He knows exactly what you need.
God wants you to pass the test — to overcome the trial — not only so He can give you the reward, but also so you will learn to love Him more, with Christlike passion and devotion. He puts you in trials to draw you close, to teach you to cling to Him, to grow you into spiritual adulthood and bring you along in your journey toward your comeback. Let Him finish His work in you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this opportunity to draw closer to You. Grant me wisdom and strength to endure the trials I’m facing. I trust You in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (NIV)
Learn more from Dr. Tony Evans about how God has orchestrated the most remarkable comeback stories for those who turn to Him. Your Comeback will inspire you to build endurance and see your own story turned around.
To connect with Dr. Tony Evans and his ministry, The Urban Alternative, visit his website here.