When we face a trial in our life it’s crucial that we understand the following 6 keys to passing the test of faith. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV) ” That begs the question, “If He overcame, then why do we still have trouble?”
The truth is, we live in a fallen world that brings many difficulties our way. But the good news is, Jesus came to face every type of trial we will ever face. He overcame each trial in order to teach us how we can now overcome the trials we face in our own lives. And when our faith is tested, if we have embraced the learning process, we can pass each test of faith with flying colors.
Think of it this way: A young child may have faith in a parent to solve all of their problems. However, it is not wise for a parent to step into their child’s life and immediately solve every problem for them. Instead, it is more beneficial for the child when the parent models what it takes to overcome, gives instructions concerning the process, and then lets the child apply the lessons that were taught to them. This process reveals to the child whether or not they have truly learned what they need in order to grow into mature adults.
This truth was learned well by James and is the reason why he was able to say,”Count it all joy when 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 (James 1:2-4).” From this verse we learn 6 things we can work on to grow in our ability to overcome the trials of life:
1. Deliberately “count it” a joy
Not exactly something most people would want to hear when facing a trial that tests their faith. Especially when we consider that this was written shortly after Stephen was martyred and Christians were being greatly persecuted. Yet, it agrees with what Jesus said when he told us to “be of good cheer” in times of trouble. Although it does not seem very realistic, that’s exactly the point. The phrase “count it” means to “deem it so”. It implies the necessity of making a deliberate effort.
The fact is, we are more likely to experience negative emotions in troubled times. The Bible is full of stories where people struggled with their emotions during intense trials. Jesus does not condemn us for our emotional pain, but is deeply touched by it (Heb 4:15). And that’s why both Jesus and James pointed out that we would have to make a deliberate effort to experience joy. So where do we begin? We begin by not thinking a trial is unusual when we’re living in a fallen world:
2. Acknowledge that we do face trials – of many kinds
The word “face” means “to encounter what is all around us”. We are living in a fallen world and we will have trouble which, according to scripture, can include general anguish, a tight spot, adversity, persecution, unjust hardships, wearisome labor, sorrow, emotional pain, depravity, burdens, and pressure. In 2 Cor 11:23-12:10 the apostle Paul listed numerous trails he faced. But then he goes on to say that these trials, while not caused by God, revealed his weaknesses, made Him rely on the grace of God, and perfected him. So instead of bemoaning trials, James advises the following:
3. Focus on the end result of becoming more mature and complete, not lacking anything
In each trial, the true colors of our faith are tested. In the same way that taking a test in school reveals what we really do and do not know about a certain subject matter, the testing of our faith reveals where we are weak in our understanding of God’s ways. When we admit that there may be something more we need to know about God, we are then enabled to embrace a new lesson for living in victory.
We also come to understand more about the process of believing that God wants to impart to us everything we need to live as overcomers. When we embrace this process we become more perfect and complete, with a greater ability to handle the troubles that surround us in this fallen world. In this process, as we realize there is something we are lacking in our knowledge of Him, we must admit it, and allow it to motivate us to:
4. Persevere to greater understanding
Acknowledging that our belief system about God is not where it should be is a good thing. It should cause a tenacity within us to know Him in a deeper measure. A measure that will increase our knowledge and faith in God so we can believe Him to help us in both our current and future tests of faith. This measure of faith will come as we:
5. Ask for wisdom
Wisdom can be defined as insight into the true nature of things. Used in this reference, wisdom becomes a key factor in helping us to accurately assess the trouble we are facing, including its source and its solution. His wisdom will always be found in His written word. It’s one of the reasons we should hide His word in our hearts. But it may also come from a Christian counselor or friend who confirms His Word. But it will most assuredly be given because He gives it freely. As we then apply His wisdom we become capable of moving on to the next level of maturity. Much the same way as we would promoted to the next level in school.
And that brings us to our last point. Applying the above truths will be the “rudder of life” that keeps you moving in the right direction toward maturity in the faith, as you:
6. Choose to Believe what He Says
James goes on to say in verses 6 and 7 that we must not doubt what Jesus has taught us, but press through the trial by applying the above truths. If we doubt, we will be like a ship tossed back and forth by waves in a storm. But the opposite is also true: someone who has taken training in how to sail a ship during a storm, knows how to press through to the other side. And with each storm, they learn more about how to press through with confidence They are not thrown back and forth while wondering what they should do.
As we press through with His wisdom, we will come through whatever this fallen world throws our way, and will move straight toward our goal of a mature faith in Jesus. We will continually move toward a deeper understanding that God’s ways have worked before and they will work again. And when we come through on the other end, we will be more perfect and complete at maneuvering through the trials.
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