“How Should We Take It?”
I’ve heard a saying recently that I think we could all agree with:
“Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.”
Attitude is something very important and it is critical when trials come our way. We can’t control what happens TO us, but we can control what happens IN us (read more about my thoughts on that HERE).
James, the author of the book of James, gives us an unusual prescription for when trials come: REJOICE! (see James 1:2-3) In fact, James tells us to rejoice in times of adversity four separate times in twelve verses. We have two choices when adversity comes our way: we can sulk (complain, grumble, etc) or we can sing (and rise about it). Our attitude will determine if our trials will make bitter or better. James doesn’t tell us to rejoice because we are facing trials, but he tells us to rejoice in them. Think about it this way: if your faith is never tested, how can you be sure it is genuine? Anything in life that is not fully tested cannot be fully trusted.
There are three things trials can teach us. They teach us patience. They teach us how to pray. They teach us the right priorities in life.
Trials teach us patience. I’ve learned to NEVER pray for patience because God will answer that prayer by giving you opportunities to practice patience. Patience doesn’t mean that you sit around and twiddle your thumbs while you wait for a trial to pass. Patience is the strength of character to face the trials of life without going to pieces. It’s living your life while you’re learning to lean on the Lord. The devil’s goal of trials is to bring you down. God’s goal for trails is to build you up and strengthen your character. Character and patience are something that you develop through life’s experiences and suffering. Think of the pearl and the diamond: two beautiful results of pressure and patience.
Trials teach us to pray. During trials, we need relief that only comes through prayer. James tells us what to do when we’re at the end of our rope: PRAY (see James 1:5). God will give you exactly what you need when you need it. I think you would agree that unless we feel completely out of control, we are less likely to give control of our life over to God. Humility is not easy to learn. Look at Paul in 2 Corinthians 9. He reminds us that God gives us trials to humble us, reminding us of our weaknesses so that we find God’s strength. Troubles should never get your lower than your knees. When trials knock you to your knees, stay there and pray.
Trials teach us the right priorities in life. Most middle-class Americans have their priorities a bit out of whack. They tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play in their worship. When trials come, we have to reexamine our values and relationships and reorder our priorities. When we are faced with our weaknesses, we can see our priorities and change them to their correct positions. Troubles are the great equalizer in life and show no discrimination. Troubles force us to face our problems. You can be poor monetarily but rich in God; or you can also be rich monetarily and poor in God. It depends on your priorities. Death and its reality have a way of changing our interests. I remember when my oncologist told another patient that it didn’t matter how much a treatment cost “because in the end, we all die with zero!” We could all learn a lesson from the popular song “Live Like You Were Dying”. Think about it this way: you can’t appreciate warmth until you’ve experienced cold. You can’t appreciate light until you’ve experienced darkness. You can’t appreciate food until you’ve experienced hunger. You can’t appreciate freedom until you’ve experienced oppression. You can’t appreciate wealth until you’ve experienced poverty. You can’t appreciate health until you’ve experienced sickness.
We need to COUNT IT ALL JOY when trials come our way. They teach us patience. They teach us how to pray. They teach us the right priorities in life. Instead of dreading them and trying to avoid them, let them develop your character and mature you in the LORD.