Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Pleasure and Purpose of Trials

There is a disturbing tendency in American Christianity to downplay and even discredit the necessity of difficulty in the Christian life. Popular, yet heretical prosperity preachers want you to believe that God wants only ease and riches for your life. The New Testament teaches something very different. In James chapter one we find two truths that should be foundational to our approach to trials as believers. First, trials are purposeful. Verse 3 – “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience . . .”
God is at work in the difficulties of life. He is developing us, shaping up, and sanctifying us. This is why the apostle Paul was able to remain faithful in the midst of incredible hardship. He had the right perspective about trials. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 He writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart . . . For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Few of us would consider the persecution, beatings, perils, weariness and sufferings that Paul faced to be light. But he was able to because he saw trials from the perspective of eternity. He knew that God was being glorified through his sufferings, and he knew that he was being changed and transformed more and more into the image of Christ through these sufferings
“For we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Which brings us to the next truth – trials are not only purposeful, they should also be a pleasure. That’s right, we can and should find joy in our trials. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Paul is not advocating some kind of masochistic or escapist existence, but an understanding of life that centers around the soveriegnty of God. He wants us to remember that our Father has not forsaken us. He has not forgotten us. He is forming and fashioning us for His greater glory. James closes his chapter on trials by stating that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” Vs. 17 Heartache, suffering, and even sickness can be grace gifts that work great glory into our lives. . Finding pleasure in trials is the true test of Christian maturity. These are deep waters. God grant us the grace to say with David, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Collin, just checking out what was on your blog and found the "Cool Memories" post. I was just thinking yesterday how great the last 6 years have been at Swartz. God has been good. Don't worry about adding this to your comments. Just wanted to tell you again how much I appreciate you following God even when the path was rough and trials painful. God has taken us through some poop together. Tell Gina I said hey and I miss her and her wonderfully talented children. Let me know what you want me to do with your stuff in my shed. The truck is having trouble or I'd just bring it to you this weekend. I'll see you Sunday morning.
Gary G.