I’ve been sitting in a study on the book of James for a while now at my church. The beginning of James talks about the followers of Christ going through trials and temptations. James begins:
“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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:2-5
“Consider it pure joy…”? What? How can I find joy in facing trials? Well, the answer to that lies in the fact that God is sovereign and that He allows us to go through hard times and trials in order to perfect our faith. Of course I’m no theologian so take that with a grain of salt; it’s just my understanding at this point in time. Anyway, whenever we are going through hard times it is often extremely difficult to see any benefit, to see how this could possibly work out for our good (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28). I was recently pondering this and came up with a real life parallel that helps me to gain a little perspective on the topic.
My oldest daughter had to have oral surgery at the beginning of this year. She had some issues with her permanent teeth not coming in that could not be resolved any other way according to multiple dental professionals. My daughter, understandably, was terrified of having to go through this. She would have be “put under” for the procedure and have strange doctors and nurses operating on her without me or my wife present. From her perspective I can see that this was just too much to have to handle. There should have been another way to fix her teeth. We could have waited a little longer, we could have seen more dentists, anything but this. Isn’t that how we respond to trials in our life? Doesn’t it often feel like too much to handle?
From my perspective, this was a necessary surgery for my daughter. There were no other alternatives that would be effective. We had done the research and talked to all the right people. This had to be done. Not only that but we could see the benefit of doing so. Even if my daughter had to go through a traumatic experience and some pain, it was only temporary and would produce a lot of good in her life. Now if we can see like that for our children, how much more so can God see what we are going through and the benefit that it will produce in our life?
Finally, one more perspective that dawned on me is that of my own broken heart. It hurt me to see the fear in my daughter’s eyes as they gave her the gas and shots to make her go to sleep. It hurt me even more to have to leave after she was sleeping and know that the doctor was about to cut on my baby girl. It hurt me when I drove home and my wife held our daughter in her arms in the backseat of the van as she cried softly the whole way home. I absolutely hated to see my little girl have to go through that. Do you think God may feel that way about us? How much more does He love us than we love our children? I believe in some ways God may allow Himself to also hurt for us whenever we must walk through tough times.
Have you had to watch your child(ren) go through hard times? Are you yourself going through a hard time? Talk to God the Father and let Him know how much you are hurting. He loves you more than anyone ever could and He does care about the fact that you do not like the current circumstance. He has also promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.