Monday, February 10, 2020

Turning Trials Into Triumphs

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
- James 1:2

When I was a kid, I loved watching reruns of the hit TV series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Do you remember the backstory? After a major accident, the best and brightest minds spent $6,000,000 reconstructing astronaut Steve Austin into the first bionic man. After his state-of-the-art surgery, he could run 60 miles an hour, bend steel with his bare hands and see small objects half a mile away. And the key line in the title sequence goes like this. “Steve Austin will be that man: Better than he was before: better, stronger, faster.”

Had it not been for the trauma of Steve Austin’s accident, he never would have become the world’s first bionic man. And in much the same way, were in not for the trials in life that we face, we would never become more mature in our Christian faith. As much as we hate to admit it, the trials we face have the potential to make us better, stronger and faster.

But honestly, our natural human response to trials is to…FREAK OUT! Whether the trial is a life-threatening illness, a major car accident, the loss of a job, or persecution for our faith, we tend to respond to our trials by temporarily losing our minds. Right?

So, in the Book of James, verse 2 sounds like something straight out of “Fantasy Land”: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Really? Is James serious? Because joy is NOT a natural response to trials. Most people don’t shout, “Praise the Lord!” when they receive a utility shut-off notice in the dead of winter. And most Christians don’t say, “Thank you Jesus!” when the doctor says, “It’s cancer.” So, as followers of Christ, we must make a conscious decision to do what’s unnatural: to choose joy when trials come. It takes effort. It takes discipline. And it takes faith.

But what’s the point of choosing joy when trials come? James gives the answer in verse 3: “You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James is basically saying, “Christian brothers and sisters, you know that trials teach you patience and increase your endurance to make you stronger. And these are all very good things. You know this—you just don’t like to admit it. You prefer to avoid trials at all costs and cross your fingers, hoping that you’ll get better and stronger without them. Well, it just doesn’t work that way. If you want to mature in your faith—if you want to grow up and become more and more like Jesus--there’s no way around it: You have to experience trials.”

James continues in verse 4: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you are a work in progress. God is slowly and methodically transforming your impatience into Jesus’ patience. He is slowly and methodically transforming your tendency to give up into Jesus’ tendency to press on. And He is slowly and methodically transforming your lousy attitude into Jesus’ attitude of counting it all joy.

Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a Christian man who realized that he was far too impatient. So, he prayed, “Lord, help me to grow in patience. I want to have more self-control in this area of my life.” Well, that morning he missed his train to work and spent the next 50 minutes pacing the platform and complaining about his situation. As the next train arrived, the man realized how foolish he had been. He said to himself, “The Lord gave me nearly an hour to grow in my patience, and all I did was practice my impatience.” Let’s be honest: When trials mess up our plans and schedules, how many of us spend far too much time practicing our impatience?

So, what is the purpose of learning patience and perseverance during our trials? The purpose—spelled out in verse 4—is to help us become mature and complete. Never forget that God is more interested in your character than He is in your comfort. God doesn’t want any of us to stay spiritual babies drinking spiritual milk. He wants us to grow up! He wants us to mature in our faith. And trials help us do that unlike anything else can. So, why should we respond to trials with joy? Not because trials are fun. Not because trials give us an excuse to have a pity party and get sympathy. We should rejoice when trials come for one reason according to James: Because they are tools in God’s hands to make us mature and complete—like Jesus.

This growth process brings with it some priceless blessings. It brings more peace to our lives; it positively influences those around us, and it pleases God. If trials pave the way for all these many blessings, you’d better believe we should rejoice. The trials may stink while we’re in them, but remember that God never wastes a trial in a Christian’s life. He will use it for your good, for the good of those around you, and for His glory. He REALLY is making you better, stronger, and faster. So, no matter how much it hurts … Rejoice. No matter how long it lasts … Rejoice. No matter how unfair and pointless it seems … Rejoice.

If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, your trial is in the hands of a loving God. He’s got this! And since He’s got this, you’ve got this too. So, rejoice!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for our worship service tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the new Dr. Ralph Baker School in Victorville. For more information, visit

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