When you hear the word trials what’s your first thought? Losing somebody you love. Getting cheated on. Going broke before pay day.
Yes. In a sense these are trials. But do they have to be so dramatic?
What about having zero patience when you’re waiting on somebody? What about knowing you should be cleaning instead of reading this post? What about giving up a Saturday to volunteer with a local ministry?
With so many ways to describe a trial it is important to see how God’s Word defines a trial. And for that. We’ll look to James, the half-brother of Jesus.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, when you experience various trials. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing, James 1:2-4
Did you catch that word ‘when‘. Not ‘if‘. But, ‘when‘. Trials are inevitable. Christian or not – you’re going to experience them my friend.
So if this is true – isn’t it important to know what it means?
James is using the greek word peirasmos = to make trial of, prove in either a good or bad sense. The goal of peirasmos is to discover the true nature of the person or thing that’s being tested. So let’s say I want to know if my wedding ring is real – I’ll take it to a jeweler and he’ll take it through a series of peirasmos.
In a good sense – peirasmos is used to determine the strength of your character when you’re being tested. In a bad sense – peirasmos is temptation to sin.
Here James is talking about peirasmos in a good sense. The end goal is that we would emerge stronger and more pure because of peirasmos or this testing.
Why do we face trials?
“knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”
Trials are a testing of your faith – not to prove to God that you are worthy. Not even to prove to yourself that you are godly. But to produce endurance.
Let me put it this way – to produce the ability to remain loyal to God. No matter the circumstances.
Instead of peirasmos becoming – in a bad sense – an opportunity to seduce us into sin, it becomes in a good sense a tool God uses to strengthen our faith and become more Christ-like.
So I know what you may be saying, ok great – we’ve defined trials in the Greek. I understand why they happen. But what exactly is a trial? How can you recognize it?
My friend, what causes you inner discomfort? makes your spirit seem uneasy?
Is it deciding to be loving to your friend or family member when they don’t seem loveable? Is it deciding whether or not to watch that show even though it uses God’s name in vain? Is it deciding to take that job despite the pay cut? Is it deciding to spend time with family rather than being on your phone? Is it being brave when faced with the unknown?
Trials are everyday struggles with circumstances, relationships, health, or some area of inability in our own lives, driving you to run towards and not away from God (– Cru ).
James has but one remedy. “Consider it all joy”. Allow your trials to make you better and not bitter.