Have you ever had a moment when God brings something to light in your heart and it just makes you want to vomit out of total conviction? I had one recently when reading from James to “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials…” (James 1:2). I’d been stuck in a funk over life circumstances and I was doing a healthy amount of complaining to the Lord about how unhappy I was with what was going on. My prayers were all pleading with Him to change my circumstances so that I could be happy again. God stopped me short, sick over my self-focused perspective. I was not thinking of my difficult life circumstances as a source of joy AT ALL. I was wallowing in a pity party, and it was darkening my perspective and my relationships. As I read on, God showed me His intention – because these trials bring about endurance, and endurance through trials is how God refines and finishes me for heaven. The result of a life enduring trials is completion; a shiny, sparkly faith like a diamond emerging from the intense pressure and heat of refinement.
The conviction didn’t stop there. As James continued his discourse, he clarified that God gives us trials in our lives, hardships that test and discipline us, He does not bring us temptations to sin. Why? Because God has always been for our good: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, CSB). It’s no mistake that James reminds us about good and perfect gifts in a lesson about enduring trials with joy. This stands at the heart of a right perspective towards hardship in our lives. In the Sermon in the Mount, Jesus reminds us that if we, as sinful, imperfect beings, can still give good things to our children when they ask, then our perfect Father in heaven can certainly exceed our expectations (Matthew 7:11). Are trials a gift? YES! They are gifts from our sovereign God and Father in Heaven, who disciplines us out of love, tests our faith for obedience, and uses our lives to glorify Himself. If we rearrange our thinking to put God on the throne instead of ourselves, we will see how trials are cause for joy, and be grateful that we are being refined for the Lord instead of moping and complaining to Him. If I can be heavenly minded, the happiness I experience will be far more eternally significant: “Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12, CSB).
If this sounds like how you think, pray that the Lord would give you the same conviction and the wisdom to see your own trials the way He does, so that you can rejoice in ALL of His good gifts.