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Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
-James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Our relationship with God, that gives us joy, great joy, is a faith relationship. We have a faith. That faith is rooted and grounded in a person, who is God. That faith is not an ethereal concept, “out there”, but based on someones faithfulness.
My faith is based on his faithfulness. In troubles, I get a chance to try it out. Does it work? Is it workable?
When I am walking in troubles and I get to exercise my faith, and what that means is seeing if it works in real life, I get to experience authentic joy from God. My heart says, “He loves me”. His love is not based on my circumstances, but in spite of my circumstances.
Job experienced this when he said, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him”. I used to keep an older man up late at night, telling him about my troubles or trials, and after hearing me out, he would say, “trust God”, and it deeply impacted me.
Our faith is in a person. When any trouble comes in your life, it is an opportunity for God to be faithful and grow your faith and this is joyful.
You misunderstand me if you think I am saying that God rescues us from trouble. That is not what I am saying and that is not what James is teaching in his letter. What happens, is that we get a chance to exercise and grow in faith when trouble hits.
When I do something good, I feel God’s pleasure. But when something bad happens, like a disappointment, I feel a joy in me that goes in the opposite of what I might imagine that I would feel.
God is always there and as a believer, always with me. I have a challenge to face and I believe I have it figured out. I make a plan and execute that plan. But then there is a disappointment, because things do not go as I planned, and there might even be a failure.
Two examples would be “car trouble” or “relational disappointment”. The car won’t start or you get a flat tire. And this person does not work out as a partner or friend, for mutual edification. Both of these are somewhat out of your hands and disappointments.
The list goes on and on. You may have “Epic Failure”, that is really no fault of your own. You sincerely worked hard and did everything you knew to do, yet failed. A high percentage of church plants fail this way, as a good example.
A lower percentage of churches that are planted, blossom, and take off. They might go wide but not deep; which is a different topic. And it is also worth mentioning, that “success” can be a trial of its own.
Whatever your troubles today, in this season; look at them and lean into them as opportunities for your faithful one. Faith is strengthened through the author of our faith. Trial or trouble give us the opportunity to exercise and grow in faith.
Real faith has endurance. It is deep and wide. The joy in trouble that is in my heart, where God is dwelling, says, “Here he comes”. I may not see him and my circumstances are bad and it is an open question how things will turn out, but the object of my faith comes up and there is joy.
I am not standing on sand, but on the rock. That rock is Christ, who’s words I live by. Troubles attract faith and there is joy in exercising faith in the faithful one.
When bad things happen, there is a commensurate faith released, if you participate with God in your trial. It’s funny that it has been argued that James is not a good book, because it is not very gospel centered. But James, being Jesus’ brother, did “get it” from his brother, after not getting it for years.
The gospel is wrapped up in a person who is the faithful one and our faith in him is lived out in life, on the ground, as Jesus also lived a faithful life. He now lives through us, unto his glory.