By Jay Grant
“Consider it all joy, my friends, when you encounter various trials, know 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.” James 1:2-4
Just extraordinary. How God takes the toughest trials in our life and produces such amazing results – endurance, perseverance, growing in Christ, becoming complete, lacking in nothing. It is remarkable how God shapes and molds our lives through the troubles, problems and tribulations that come our way. It isn’t easy to suffer, which is why James says we need to “consider” it joy when trials hit. In other words, we won’t feel joy when devastation comes our way, but we can consider it so.
This the third of a three-part series on how to deal with suffering. In the first message, I talked about “extreme faith” where we are able to exult in tribulation because we know God is doing some amazing. Last week I taught you the benefit of “pressure”, that when God wants to change us, he applies pressure to our lives. This week I want to give you very practical steps to take when, as you are cruising along through life, suddenly you find yourself reeling from some unexpected trouble. Emotions flare up and you are alternately confused, hurt, despairing, disorientated, perhaps feeling betrayed or rejected.
So what do you do when adversity strikes? How are you to react? How can you respond to troubles in a way that will help you live ABOVE the trial, not UNDER it. Here is what I do…
1. First thing – I pray. “God, I have no idea what’s happening or why, but I give this trouble to you. Will You be my strength. Will You fight for me. Will you give me wisdom. Would you keep me from self-destructing. Above all, help me to trust You no matter what comes my way.”
2. I don’t look for an escape nor do I run to something that will ease my pain. I say to God, “Lord, do what you must do through this trial that I might become more like you.
3. I stand on God’s promise that, “All things work together for the good to those who love God.” Romans 8:28
4. I remind myself that there is something powerfully redemptive in every trial. God will not be denied as He works everything in our life to His glory.
5. I don’t stuff my feelings. I let my emotions out. I shout: “God this us hard”; or I weep, allowing the tears of the Holy Spirit to soothe my soul; or I walk and have long conversations with God – step by step I let God know how I feel: “Not liking this God.” “This is hard and I’m barely hanging, BUT I AM HANGING ON!” “What are you up to God?” Don’t care for the way you are doing this.” “Wouldn’t treat my boy like this.” But God I love You anyway.” I am not too happy but I know I have limited understanding of this.” Etc.,etc.
6. If I am part of, or the main reason for, the trouble I’m in, I take responsibility for my actions and ask for forgiveness from those involved.
7. I know in trials the enemy is going to barrage me with lies, and I try to be ready to resist them, I know I need to put on the full armor of God when in distress.
8. I rest in the assurance that God is in every trial and allows every trial and bring the trial to an end exactly when He is ready.
9. I read over and over Psalm 84, especially verses 5-7 where God promises to grow me in strength when passing through the Valley of Weeping.
10. I seek to humble myself before God and rest in Him during the trial. I don’t always do such a good job of this but I try.