Christian life is a mixture of things. It has sweetness and bitterness. It has sweetness, because of the things we enjoy in Christ; bitterness, because of the things we go through for Him. Both are for our upbringing and stability in Christ so that we serve Him boldly. We inevitably rejoice when one appears and we are also called to rejoice at the presence of the other. So, it is written, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (Jam. 1:2). This is not without benefits.
As believers of Christ we surely face various trials. Some of them are so severe we feel we did rather die. There are others that commonly appear. All in all, they appear to disengage us from our faith in the Lord. The Bible speaks of them and often illustrates those who faced them while yearning to live godly. The prime reason for facing various trials is that the world does not accept our way of life that constantly judges their thoughts and works as unrighteous. Furthermore, its prince hates the way we chose to demonstrate our life for Christ. While there is great joy in obtaining salvation, the will and promises of God, we also ought to be aware that our journey with them will face varied trials. This is the inherent wisdom in salvation. Being saved in Christ firstly means our complete separation from the world, which is the prime reason for our way of life. Satan and the world constantly war with us. Our faith in the Lord and obedience to Him will ultimately determine the magnitude of the war we fight.
That the trials are varied means they come in many ways. The foremost of them is the temptation to sin. Satan constantly tries to induce us with the thoughts and works of the flesh that we should stumble in our walk with the Lord; the naïve in the Lord fall to them more often than the strong in Him. He uses his power as he did in the case of Eve or uses the world and its people to lure us to the matters that do not concern the Lord. He tempts us to do works for the Lord that are not of His will and make us boastful and arrogant. He uses whatever means necessary that we should live independent of the Lord. Sometimes He creates urgencies and pressures us to act thinking it to be the will of the Lord. He even uses the ones very close to us to tempt us into making unwise choices. He causes men to turn against us and our way of life. There are many ways by which he acts against us resulting in various trials that cause suffering. We face them or have to face them, no doubt. Christ Himself had to face them and overcame them. In fact, He faced them for our sake that we know we have someone at our side to help overcome them.
We are to obtain His help to discern all attempts of Satan and ways of the worldly. It is by faith, which is the source of His priceless and undefeatable wisdom. By it we have had the experience of the His mind toward us. So, we know He does not act unbecomingly toward us. We can be sure of one thing. In all our trials He is with us. Yet, we suffer by them, since He allows them for our growth in Him and for Him. Hence, James the apostle asks us to rejoice at facing them. Then, we are to take advantage of them knowing that in them there is great opportunity to climb up the ladder of wisdom, knowledge and faith. We know the Lord is at our side to help us through; He will never leave us nor forsake us. So, it is only a matter of the length of time in facing them. They must leave us, i.e. we overcome them, at some point. This is the advantage of believing the Lord. The upshot is we become spiritually richer in Him. And, the key to this is to consider facing various trials as all joy.
Trials make us stronger for the Lord and His kingdom, since they cause a suffering that seeks His interference. As He interferes, we obtain the necessary elements and overcome them. Suffering brings forth unmatched result. To illustrate what it produces, let us consider the circumcision given to the nation of Israel. When they suffered in the flesh, they benefited from it. In this regard, Paul said, “Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2). Israel had to suffer in order to take hold of and honor the oracles. It was by them that they were in return honored and blessed by God. Circumcision was by no means a trial. It was the Law. But, we can visualize the benefit of suffering for the Lord. So, when the Lord allows trials in our life, let us consider it all joy. For they produce sufferings of variable degrees in us so that their outcome is becoming spiritually richer in Christ. This has other benefits. The Lord takes care of us by blessing us and fulfilling our desires.
Just as circumcision helped Israel to have the oracles of God, even so the outcome of suffering from trials helps us live closer to Him. We will have gone from one level to another having gained a greater access to the Lord. Corresponding to this, Christ also knowing that He should obtain greater access to God said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). The only reason for Him to be lifted up would be when He faces various trials. When He faced them, He was crucified. Nevertheless, there came a priceless outcome. He resurrected from the dead and sat at the right hand of God performing justice and righteousness to all with power and wisdom. He gives life to all who believed in Him sanctifying them with His blood. So, the point is when He was called by God to serve Him, He knew His godly living will bring Him trials and sufferings. Each time He faced them He considered it all joy; for He was looking for the fruit that comes from trials. Even so, we are to lean toward joy when facing trials. They will surely come or in your case may have already come. As you take advantage of them, you will see a bright outcome.
Trials certainly do not make us joyful. But what allows us to consider facing them as all joy is the grace which we tasted. Hence, a man like Paul was always able to rejoice in them. He knew that Christ Jesus was always by his side. He gladly encountered the actions of Satan and his countrymen knowing that the outcome of his suffering would benefit the Lord and His kingdom. And when he met the Jews in Rome, he said, “For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). As often as he faced trials, he reflected the Christ in him. Though some prominent Jews and their subordinates rejected him, there were many others that believed in the Lord. His chains were a work of unbelievers, but the Lord worked through them. He was eventually freed from them as we hear he lived in his own rented quarters. He accomplished amazing things for the Lord. This was by the grace with which he was able to consider encountering various trials as all joy.
What Paul had become to the churches for Christ is irrevocable. Christ made him go through many trials and made him an impregnable asset to His kingdom. He made him a benchmark to us so that we know how to conduct ourselves when faced with trials. One thing we can always see in his life is that the end result of suffering or trial is sweetness. So, he elsewhere asked believers to imitate him as he imitated Christ. For he knew it was “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).
See the necessity of rejoicing at encountering various trials. It is to the praise of the glory of God’s grace. There is no other way for it other than living a godly life. And godly life produces trials of various kinds. Then, God’s wondrous grace will be known to and received by many. We overcome trials and the viewpoint of His grace is revealed to the world. Yes, this takes time, sometimes longer than we think. But as we trust Him and know that they are for the revealing of His grace, there will be benefit. While men praise the idea of His grace, our victory and the stature of our wisdom, knowledge and faith also obtain witness. People around us are in need to know that salvation or freedom from sin and death is freely bestowed on men in the Beloved; for they have bound themselves to live by the flesh. Our godly life, which attracts trials, is the way to enlighten them. Our victory along with the wisdom, knowledge and faith we produce through trials will give them an opportunity to come to the Lord that they too receive His reward. “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS” (Rev. 2:26).
There is advantage in being able to consider facing various trials as all joy. Actually, to consider it all joy is in itself a fine wisdom, because in it there is the knowledge of the reward. As you do it, you know you have to overcome them and you intend to do it by keeping His deeds. His deeds are made available to us through His servants of whom one said, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).