Down But Not Out
You work against resistance to exercise your muscles. You exercise your faith by facing and conquering trials and difficulties. Trials are to faith what barbells are to muscles. God is the perfect Coach. He puts your faith through challenging times to spur your spiritual growth.
My first response in trials is often, “Why did this happen to me?” James looks beyond the superficial. He sees reasons for rejoicing amid sorrow, grief, and pain. For James, spiritual health is more important than physical health. Trials are God’s surgery to make you whole.
Trials develop perseverance. When the wheels of your life are falling off, God isn’t testing your patience, resourcefulness or intelligence. He’s testing your faith. Tested faith has staying power. You need a faith with pit bull tenacity to finish well.
Trials develop your faith. They equip you for every good work. God uses them to cut away the not like Jesus parts of your life. Yes, I know. I don’t like them either. Part of the problem is I naturally value my comfort more than my spiritual health. I’m pretty sure you do too.
Life’s tough times require wisdom. Wisdom isn’t knowing why the wheels are falling off. It’s knowing what your response should be. Wisdom is skillfully applying God’s truth to life. God gives wisdom generously. He won’t turn you down or chew you out for coming to often to ask Him for it (James 1:5).
Unbelief is a barrier between you and God’s wisdom. To ask in faith means taking God at His word because He wants to give you His best gifts (Matthew 7:9-11). He didn’t withhold His best when He sent His Son. He won’t withhold any other good thing you need for life and godliness (Romans 8:32, 2 Peter 1:3).
Beware of wavering between self-sufficiency and trust in God when you’re asking for wisdom. Depending on yourself is like building your house on sand. God designs trials to pack staying power into your faith in Him.
Tough times strike everyone. “Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position” (James 1:9, NIV). Through faith they’re co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Rich believers are made low because all are equal in Christ. Their superiority is gone. Their humiliation may also refer to the humbling experience of being persecuted for Christ’s sake.
A reward awaits if you pass the faith test. Blessed refers to your joyous, enviable state when you don’t buckle under tough times but trust steadfastly in God. Hanging in there during trials results in God’s approval, which in turn results in “the crown of life.”
Face adversity. There’s no other good option. Like an airplane, you reach your intended heights heading into the wind!
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Photo: [Severe Storms and Tornadoes] Dyersburg, TN, April 09, 2006 -- A family takes a few minutes from cleaning up their tornado damaged house to stand by their optimistic motto painted on the side of their house. Leif Skoogfors/ FEMA Photo - PICRYL Public Domain Search
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