James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy my brothers when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” In I Peter 1:7 the Scripture, speaking in the context of trials, says they are like the purifying process of gold when it is melted. The dross comes to the surface and can be skimmed away and the gold is made purer. So trials purify our faith.
I guess the question is, “Why does Scripture say trials, struggles, and difficulties are actually good for us?” Because they reveal the weak places in our faith. Recently I was in Colorado trout fishing with three friends. We were way back in the wilderness fishing in a high mountain lake, 22 miles by dirt road from the nearest blacktop. There was only one small store anywhere around. But to get to it we had to go across a small bridge that spanned a tributary. The bridge said, “Three ton limit.” There we sat. The truck we were in was 4.5 tons by itself and we were pulling a loaded trailer that added at least another ton! Did we turn around? Nope! Not on your life. Not us! Couldn’t pass up a risky challenge! Across the bridge we went.
Since I am writing this you can guess that the bridge held. It was actually strong enough to withstand more than the sign said. But what if we decided to put the bridge to the test and loaded rocks in the truck and trailer and drove over it again. Then if it stood we loaded more rocks! Eventually it would have failed. What would happen then? Well, besides us going into the river, truck and all, the engineers would come in to inspect the bridge and discover the place where the bridge had failed. Then when they re-built the bridge they would address that weak place and the second bridge would be stronger than the previous one. All as a result of the failure.
In fact, the history of the engineering of bridges is a story of failure, discovery, and re-building. With each failure the engineers study, learn, address the weakness, and rebuild. Each time the next bridge is stronger and better.
That is the story of trials in the believer’s life. Each one that comes puts us under stress and sometimes the stress is enough that failure is the result. We break. That failure reveals a weakness. So we admit and address the weakness. We re-build. And when we do we are better and stronger than we were before. That is the endurance of James 1. That is the purifying of the gold of I Peter 1.
Someone once said that trials will either make you “bitter or better.” What about you? Since your last trial are you bitter or are you better? It all depends upon who you look to doesn’t it? If you look to yourself and others you will probably become bitter. If you look to Christ and ask, “How can you teach me from this,” you will be better. We all have pain. Don’t waste your pain! Let Christ grow you through it
Here’s to better!
James M.Reeves, DMin.
Senior Pastor, Celebration Fellowship, Ft. Worth, Texas
Author: Refuge (How Hospital Church Ministry Can Change Your Church Forever)
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