Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3 NAS)
The past half year has been tough for me, with many changes happening in my workplace which have caused undue stress and doubts in my own values. Going through tough times is never easy, yet the Bible exhorts us to consider it all joy when we encounter them (James 1:2). How should we as a people of God handle difficult times and endure them? Not too long ago, I heard a sermon by a pastor who suggested five things we can do when we are facing trials and temptations.
First, do not dwell in self-pity. Instead, always look ahead, knowing that trials produce endurance, and endurance leads to perfection and completeness (James 1:2-4). Unless we go through trials, we seldom know how much we need Jesus, until Jesus is all we have. Our focus should therefore be on what’s to come, and not on the difficulties we are going through now.
Second, ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8). God pays attention to us all the time, for we are His sole preoccupation. When we come to God and ask of Him, we must not doubt, and we must be willing to work alongside with God. Are we prepared to work with God to be rid of things the Lord expects us to put away? Unless we are single-minded in our pursuit, we cannot receive anything from the Lord or live our lives meaningfully.
Third, do not glory in or rely on our own wealth (James 1:9-11). Money does not provide all the answers, and we need to be humble to come to God. Being wealthy is nothing wrong, for Abraham was also rich. However, wealth has a tendency to make us compare, and in comparing we find troubles for ourselves. Never look to our wealth for an absolute solution.
Fourth, look toward the future (James 1:12). Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life. Keep on looking ahead, and endure in perseverance.
Fifth, have a proper orientation concerning temptation (James 1:13-16). God does not tempt. Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire. If there is anything that needs to be dealt with, it is most likely something to do with our inward unholy desires. Temptation is not uncommon during trials or testings. Deal with our sin and get back on track with God. Trust God absolutely in our trial.
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. We need not fear or worry even if the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46:1-3), for the LORD of hosts is with us; He is our stronghold (Psalm 46:7). In the world we have tribulation, but take courage, our Lord has overcome the world (John 16:33). God knows the trials we are going through, and when He has tried us, we shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
Dear Lord, we know there is no perfect formula to handle trials and temptations while we are here on earth. Help us therefore Lord not be tied down by our own inward unholy desires, but to overcome temptations—especially in time of trials—that we may not fall prey to the devil. Grant us wisdom and complete faith to trust You unreservedly, Lord. Remove self-pity from us, and redirect us to focus on You and Your promises. Strengthen us that we may endure to the end in single-minded pursuit to fulfill Your will, that through the trials we shall come forth as gold.
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