We all go through problems and hard times, but how does God want us to react when facing difficulties? Here are three ways we can all face our trials successfully and honor God in the process.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT).
Think About It
Respond with joy
When responding to problems James begins with what sounds like a strange suggestion, “Consider it an opportunity for great joy.” You are to “consider” (hegeomai) your troubles as an opportunity. To consider something means to think through it, study it, and reflect on it. Your natural tendency will be to worry about it, become afraid, or to become angry this is happening. However, God wants you to evaluate your problem from a divine perspective.
The word “consider” (hegeomai) comes from an accounting term that means “to evaluate.” Accountants add up the numbers to make the balance sheet come out right. Sometimes your trials don’t add up from a human standpoint. They don’t seem to make sense; the balance sheet seems to be off. You start thinking things like, “This is not fair” or “Why is this happening to me?” When God tells you to consider what’s happening to you, He is telling you to put away your human calculator and use His. He wants you to evaluate your trials from the perspective of joy. Jesus had this attitude when He faced the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (NLT). There is joy awaiting you on the other side of your cross, your trial, your problem. Disregard the shame or embarrassment that your problem may be causing and keep your eyes on Jesus who is leading you to your joy on the other side of your trial. You don’t rejoice for the problem, you rejoice in the problem because you know the end result will be for God’s glory and your growth.
Respond with knowledge
There is something very significant stated in verse 3 that can be easily overlooked. James says, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” The word “know” (ginosko) carries the idea of full understanding of something that is beyond simple facts and often comes from personal experience. Your faith has already been tested in the past. It may have been in small ways, but it was tested. Your faith was tested with your finances, health, children, finding a job, and a host of other items. When you look back on those times of testing, “you know” based on experience, that your faith grew and you became a little stronger in your walk with God as you experienced His faithfulness in your life. You experienced God’s guidance, experienced God’s provision, and experienced God’s strength. Here’s the point. When your faith is being tested by a trial, think back on the other trials you have gone through and remind yourself of how God provided, guided, and encouraged you through them. He will do the same in this new and more intense trial you face. Confront your problems with knowledge, experiential knowledge. “You know” God will get you through and make a way.
Respond with prayer
Anytime is a good time to pray, but especially when you have problems. When you are going through a trial, what do you pray for? God tells you in verse 5, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT). God is saying that when you go through a problem, you need wisdom. Ask Him for it.
What is wisdom? “Wisdom” (sophia) is the ability to judge correctly and follow the best course of action, based on knowledge of God’s Word and understanding of its application. Wisdom is the God-given ability to perceive the true nature of a problem and to implement the will of God in that problem. In other words, wisdom is knowing what God wants you to do in the midst of your trial. Wisdom is knowing what God wants you to say or not say, do or not do toward the person who seems to be causing pain in your life. Wisdom is knowing what God wants you to do and not do during your financial hardship, your battle with cancer, or after the loss of a loved one. Wisdom is knowing exactly what God would have you to do in the midst of your problem.
Are you going through some trouble? Then ask God for wisdom because He is a “generous God” when it comes to handing out wisdom. This means God wants to give you wisdom and He will not hold back, “He will give it to you.” He wants to tell you exactly what you need to know and do. It delights Him to share wisdom with people like you.
James concludes this encouragement about asking for wisdom with what first appears to be a strange statement, “He will not rebuke you for asking.” Why would James tell you that God will not rebuke you when you ask for wisdom? It could be because you might think that God will not give you wisdom because the mess you are in is your fault. Even if the troubles you are facing are because of your poor decisions, God’s Word clearly states that God will give you wisdom to make it right and “will not rebuke you for asking.” He will not tell you how unworthy or undeserving you are of His wisdom. He will not rebuke you for not asking sooner. Instead, without hesitation or reservation “He will give” the wisdom you need to face whatever it is you are facing.
Which of the three responses do you struggle with the most? Why? What is the opposite response of each of these and what do you think the result would be? What experiences has God brought you through that have increased your knowledge regarding facing problems in the future? What’s the difference between walking in wisdom and walking according to your emotions?
Heavenly Father, I know You are at work here. I don’t know all that You want to do in this trial, but I know You allowed it for my good. So rather than complaining, I’m going to praise You in this situation for what You are going to accomplish in me and through me for Your glory. I know You have something good in this for me. Help me to see Your plan and Your hand in this trial. Show me how to respond to get the most out of what You want for me right now. Give me Your wisdom on this matter. Amen