The Joy of Trials? Seriously? Yes.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – JAMES 1:2-4
These past few months, we’ve experienced quite a wet season. According to the L.A. Times,
“Downtown Los Angeles has received 12.91 inches of rain since Oct. 1 — that’s 167% above average for this time of year and close to the annual average of 14.93 inches. It’s also a stark contrast from last winter — the third-driest water year for downtown L.A. since record-keeping began in 1877. At this time last year, just 1.89 inches of rain had fallen since Oct. 1.”
The upside is drought relief, which is desperately needed. The downside is that people (like me) and institutions (like Prism Church) are finding out the hard way that their storm water drains are clogged. Over the course of two days, I had flooding in my side yard and flooding in my office at the church. My home storm drain was clogged. We discovered the church does not have a storm drain system.
How would we ever have discovered that we had internal problems in the storm water system without the storm? Storms are needed to nourish the earth, but they also have the benefit of showing if your gutters are clogged or your drains are blocked. That’s a pretty optimistic view of storms, don’t you think?
The Apostle James thought that trials were something that we should consider a source of joy. That seems a sunny outlook, too. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (and born of James’ experience of persecution and struggle as a believer), James could give testimony that his difficulties brought to the surface his great and ongoing need for the Lord’s strength. Our need to depend on Him enables us to be steadfast in our struggle.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18
The full effect of the Lord’s ongoing presence is the transformation of our character to more perfectly reflect His own. This won’t be a completed project until we see the Lord face to face. But make no mistake about it, the uncovering of our need for Jesus is why we are experiencing life’s storms. And knowing for certain (the definition of hope) that one day we will see Jesus and become like Him is what enables us to both rejoice for the difficulty we face, and be steadfast in our pursuit of His character traits.
“Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” – 1 JOHN 3:2-3