I’m going to give you an equation you probably weren’t expecting.
Trials + steadfast faith = peace
Did you know that trials correlate with peace?
You may be thinking, “Erica, anything with the word trials in it, is far from peace. In fact, trials STEAL my peace, so how can this be?”
Well, I’m glad you asked.
In James 1:2-4 it says:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
How Do You ‘Count It All Joy’?
James 12:4 is a very familiar scripture among believers especially during times of trouble.
But many people say these words out of their ‘head knowledge’ because it hasn’t taken root in their hearts to become ‘heart knowledge.’
So when a trial comes, it still creates havoc in the depths of their soul.
This message is a message of exhortation from Paul to the church, and this message is not to be taken lightly by passive listening.
His message was meant to have us do something—to respond in trials.
Not just have an ear to hear what to do and shake your head in agreement.
So what are the actions Paul is asking us to take in the midst of trials?
#1 – You Must ‘Consider’
“…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” – Nehemiah 8:10b
Consider means to think carefully about something; to be drawn to a course of action from the thought.
Paul is saying to consider it joy: to move towards joy by thought.
Notice he didn’t say to feel joy. He said to consider it.
To make a conscious effort to think it joy.
Because when you’re going through trials, what do you usually do?
You think anyways, right?
You think about the pain, the despair, the tragedy, the loss, etc.
The thoughts are either leading you to respond in sorrow or respond in joy.
So regardless, your thoughts are where it starts.
Therefore, Paul first addresses the mind by saying consider it joy.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8
#2 – You Must ‘Know’
The next course of action Paul is telling the church is to know.
This is a mental state.
Meaning, to understand, to perceive something as fixed or established.
Paul is telling the church to have a fixed understanding in your mind that trials are meant to do two things.
First, they’re meant to test your faith.
And second, they’re to produce perseverance.
Paul says the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
So you see, it’s all about your perspective.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Colossians 3:2
You can either purpose in your mind to trust God with all of your heart.
Or, lean on your own understanding. (See Proverbs 3:5-6)
You can either walk by faith that God will work this all together for good.
Or, believe the lies of the enemy that says to walk by sight and base everything off of your feelings, logic, and opinions. (See Romans 8:28)
The truth is, many times it’s all a battle within your mind.
A battle you must lay at the feet of Jesus and have the right perspective.
#3 – You Must ‘Persevere’
Why must you persevere?
Because it leads to a finished work in a believer: ‘not lacking anything.’
True faith is a persevering faith, meaning that it’s been tried and tested and victorious!
Nothing can steal your joy, peace or assurance in Christ when you have this produced in you.
You won’t be able to persevere (meaning to stand firm and keep standing) if you lack faith.
And you won’t grow in your faith until you face trials.
The key is to never give up no matter what.
By purposing in your heart to finish the race God has called you to run no matter who or what tries to stand in your way.
When Do You Usually Consider Trials Joyful?
You usually consider trials joyful after the trial is over, right?
How many times have you been in a trial and had no clarity?
More so than not, it feels like a dark tunnel until the trial is over.
It’s only then that you consider the trial joyful.
Then you’re able to look back and in hindsight, see what God was doing in and through you the whole time.
But did you know, trials actually help you to grow your faith too?
When you see God’s hand deliver you in the past, those times help you to consider it joyful the next time it happens.
That’s why it’s good to consider trials joyful after you’ve gone through them and be thankful.
You’re not letting that joy have its full effect when you don’t begin by having joy in the midst of the trial too.
Remembering God’s deliverance in the past will push you in the right thinking pattern towards joy in the trial.
And when faith is produced in a believer’s heart, many times through trials, faith then propels peace.
Overcoming trials brings you peace because God sustained you.
He reassures you that He will sustain you always.
Do You Want A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding?
Peace is an assurance that everything will be okay.
And let me tell you, peace is priceless!
So trials ultimately are not meant to steal your peace or your joy.
God allows them to produce peace in you because you’re learning to trust Him over and over again.
Let’s use the analogy of a parent and child.
When a child is injured, what do they do?
They don’t run to their best friend, or stuffed animal or their favorite candy.
They first run to mom or dad.
Just like pain draws a child to an earthly parent, pain in the life of a believer draws them to God.
Draw Near To God And He Will Draw Near To You
God is a relational God.
He wants a deep relationship with His children.
He wants us to trust Him and depend on Him just like a child trusts in the care in their mother.
There is a track record of peace and assurance the child has in their parent from past experiences.
Trials have many benefits if you allow yourself to step outside the worldly thinking of trial equals bad and focus on the bigger picture for them.
A trial, if you allow it, will ultimately produce in you: joy, faith, peace, perseverance, a deeper trust, and a stronger relationship with God.
Paul wasn’t saying to count trials as joy because God doesn’t care or wants you to suffer.
We know Paul went through an abundance of trials.
But he ultimately knew that they had the potential to produce something so valuable in the heart of a believer.
Think about a ruby, most people know rubies are very precious and rare, in the Bible, they are more talked about than diamonds.
But most people don’t know how rubies are formed.
You may think they just appear in the dirt underground if you search hard enough.
While that may be true, it doesn’t explain the formation of rubies.
Rubies are formed when great heat and pressure are applied to the original materials into a hard mineral.
This is a true transformation.
A beautiful ruby is produced from immense pressure.
And so is the peace that surpasses all understanding.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12
So we too must go through the pressures and fiery trials of life to draw us closer to God.
And look more and more like Christ, the ultimate transformation.
Do you see more clearly now the necessity of trials and what it produces?
It creates something so precious and invaluable in us, just like a ruby.
I love how God has lessons in nature to teach His children.
That is how much He loves us, that He created life lessons in creation all around us.
We don’t always need “experts” to tell us…sometimes we just need to go for a walk.