The Purpose of Trials (Part 2)
James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
Last week I had indicated that we would complete the last four purpose that God has for us in trials, but I got somewhat diverted. We traveled to Kansas last week to visit family. So, today we pick up where we left off last Monday.
Last Monday we learned that Scripture mentions at least eight purposes for the Lord to allow trials in our lives. The first purpose was that trials test our strength. The second purpose is that trials humble us. The third purpose is that trials wean us from our dependence on worldly things. And the last purpose we looked at was that trials calls us to an eternal and heavenly hope.
The fifth purpose for God allowing trials in the lives of His people is that trials reveal what we really love. In Genesis 22 Abraham is commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac whom God had made very clear was the son of promise. Abraham, in a gut-wrenching narrative, proceeds to follow through with God’s command. At the last second, as Abraham is raising the knife over Isaac, God provides a ram in the thicket to take Isaac’s place. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac revealed a man who truly loved God. He loved God more than His child. How many of us can honestly say that?
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 reminds us what we are to love above all else: “Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate His own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Jesus wasn’t telling us that we should mistreat our families because that would go against the clear commands of Scripture, but what He was doing was using figurative language to make a point. The point is that our love for God should exceed all our other loves, including the love of our families. I firmly believe that within the evangelical church one of the idols that we worship is the idol of family.
The sixth purpose for trials is that trials teach us to value God’s blessings. Our worldly way of thinking tells us to value the things of the world and the world itself. Our senses tell us to value pleasure and ease. But through trials, faith tells us to value the spiritual things of God with which God has blessed us in abundance. God has blessed us with salvation, with His Word, with grace, with mercy, with strength, and with so many other wonderful things.
Psalm 63:3-7 says, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.” Hebrews 12:2 reminds us of the greatest blessing of all: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The seventh purpose for God allowing trials in our lives is that it helps develop an enduring strength for greater usefulness to Him. Thomas Merton the Puritan preacher and writer said, “while all things are quiet and comfortable, we live by sense rather than by faith. But the worth of a soldier is never known in times of peace.” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The last purpose in God allowing trials to come our way is that it enables us to better help others through their trials. In Luke 22:31-32 it says, ,”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Hebrews 2:18 says, “For since He Himself (Jesus) was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
We live in a society that is consumed with ease. But the Bible clearly teaches that as Christians we should not expect a life of ease but instead, we should expect a life of difficulty. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Remember that we are to rejoice in our trials, we are to rejoice in our persecution because through those things God produces in us an enduring faith.