Monday, July 14, 2008

The Trials of Life

I have a confession to make...I LOVE reading commentaries along with my Bible for my quiet times. Especially the Reformed Expository ones.  I am doing one on James now, and it is really good!  I have been wanting to write this post for a week now, but these take a lot of time to write:)

Anyway, Let's get started.....

 James 1:2-12 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

  James is telling us here that God brings us trials to test our faith and develop maturity in us. That is the goal!  The author says, "When James says believers should rejoice in trials because they test our faith and develop maturity, he addressed more than the hour of crisis or sorrow.  James wants the church to live out its faith in the crucible of life, in all its tests.  This includes tests born of hardship, such as accidents, sickness, poverty, and anxiety.."  Amen!

  I am going to attempt to apply this teaching to the most significant trial of this season in my life- my health, specifically my migraines.  I am called to live out my faith in the midst of these migraines.  God is testing me and developing maturity.  It is hard!  I am still having two migraines a week and this has been going on a year.  But I must rejoice.

  James says that our response to trials reveals our heart condition- and he wants us to respond with pure joy.

  Mr. Doriani, the author, "First of all, we must see the world as a place of constant testing.  Peace is rare, almost abnormal, and trials are common.  Rather than blaming God for this, we should regard it as joy, because trials produce maturity, especially if we seek God's wisdom in them."
    Many times I do question God in this trial.  How much longer?  Why isn't anything working God? What about my poor husband who already has so much on his plate?  Shouldn't my girls have a mom who is able to play with them more? I can't get anything done God cause I'm in bed so much?  BUT I am sinning!  I must speak truth to myself in these moments and KNOW that God is the author of this and He has my BEST in mind.  He is maturing me and growing my character.

  How do we respond to trials? James says to his church...
  1. "Consider," that is, make a judgement, that trials are a cause for joy
  2. They should ask for wisdom
  3. They should not "be deceived" about the origin and nature of temptation
  4. "Know this," James says, and he states principles for speech and self-control
  5. They should "not forget" what they read in the word.

  "Humanly speaking, trials seem like random evils that fall on us.  But our Sovereign oversees the trial itself and oversees us in the trial, so it strengthens and deepens our faith.."  Isn't that comforting?  That's what brings us joy!  For we know that the trials are sent by a merciful God who promises us an inheritance that never fades or perishes!  Even if we don't see it this side of heaven!

  Whew!  There are many times I long for heaven. But it's not time yet.  I know God does oversee me.  He is always so faithful to provide for me-rest in the midst of the migraines, a medicine that works to take it away within a few hours, a Dr who cares a ton about helping me get better, a husband who does a great job picking up where I have to leave off.  Grace abounds.

"Indeed, no significant accomplishment is possible unless we learn to persevere through trials.  Progress toward any great thing inevitably entails obstacles.  We must persevere.  By such we gain the strength to persevere in yet greater diversity."

  Yes, I must persevere.  I will persevere.  God is here with me.

"In the midst of hardship, people sometimes guess what they should learn from it.  They say "The Lord will teach me patience through this," or "I will learn to trust God more completely." The Lord can indeed deepen patience or trust through trial.  But James does not say trials produce one particular virtue.  Rather, James 1:4 says perseverance leads to maturity in general: "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Trials lead to well-rounded virtue.  There is no virtue that trials cannot build.  There is no defect trials cannot remedy, no strength trials cannot impart." 
  Wow!  That builds me up!  To know that God can do anything with trials, that there is no limit to the virtues He can and will bestow through them!  I am guilty of guessing what I should learn through trials.  Instead of guessing, I should be asking God for wisdom to discern what He wants to teach me. Lord, I am open, show me your wisdom!  Bring it on!

  In case you are wondering do we have to rejoice in the particular illness or, you fill in the blank..."James does not command disciples to rejoice in illnesses per se, but we should rejoice in the lessons we learn in them.  At a minimum, trials expose our weaknesses so we know where we must grow.  Trials expose our sin and our inability to reform ourselves.  They reveal our need of a Savior."

  Oh yes! I need Him in a big way.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is this-I cannot do this by myself!  I need His grace and strength, I need my husband's help and prayers, I need my friends prayers.  I cannot heal myself!  Only God can take these nasty things away.

Have we trials and temptations
Is there trouble anywhere
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

O, what a friend we've found
What a friend we've found
What a friend we've found in You
O, what a friend we've found
What a friend we've found
What a friend we've found in You

So, I will be healed, either here on this earth or in heaven.  But God promises me that it will happen.  In the meantime, I am going to persevere and ask God for wisdom, while he cultivates character in me.  And I will be praying the same for each of you as you endure trials.




Denise said...

I found the commentary to be excellent. Thanks for sharing these words, they're very convicting.

Shawnda said...

Amen, sister! You are a trooper, and God's grace is so evident in your life! I have NEVER heard you complain about your migraines, and we've had plenty of conversations about your health with plenty of opportunity for you to complain! The Lord has given you much grace to honor Him and glorify Him in this trial! You are a testimony of grace and an example to us all!!!

Anna said...

Good, Lindsay! Good stuff, the Lord does refine us to his glory!