The Value of the Test

by Joanna Pierce on May 23, 2019

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:1–4, KJV).

Our Outlook on Adversity

As humans, we don’t innately like to be tested. Tough times and adversity affect us; it impacts our thoughts, outlook, personality, worship, prayer life, etc. James, the pastor of the early church, observed how adversity was impacting the saints. Persecution was prevalent and very hard times had come upon the early believers.

When it comes to the Christian life, adversity is to be expected. It will come in all shapes and sizes and from many different directions. Regardless to the trial or tribulation, our outlook should be joyful and we should have a positive mindset toward these spiritual troubles. James wanted to help the church change their vantage point on trials.

Benefits of Adversity

In the face of the trial, it’s hard to see the benefit. However, we need to understand how the trying of our faith works patience (James 1:3). There is value in adversity! We must stop losing our faith and giving up in the face of adversity; it will keep coming so we must know how to view it and deal with it.

Nothing is as bad as it seems in American, Christian culture. Our trials can’t be compared to the situation James was addressing: these people were being persecuted for their faith, were miles away from their families, etc. Even still, adversity, for the early church (and for us today) has a purpose. God will uses trials, tests, and temptation for our development. Trials bring out endurance and steadfastness in our walk with God.

James wasn’t the first one to tell us trying times are good for us. David said the same in the Psalms (Psalms 66:10). Solomon tells us God tries the hearts (Proverbs 17:3). Peter told us to greatly rejoice over many temptations; the trial of our faith is good for us (I Peter 1:6–7). God is testing our trustworthiness to Him. We must realize God, through the refining the process of adversity, is trying to get the best (perfect work) out of us (James 1:4).

We will never reach a level of knowledge and wisdom in God until we’ve walked through a time of adversity. We’ll never grow in a ministry unless we’ve had a few trials. We must expect trials in our lives; God will not shield us from misery and hard times. He didn’t do it for the early church, and it won’t do it for us today.

The “Whys” of Trials

God’s objective is not to make us happy in this life; it’s to make us holy. He wants to make us like Him (we were created in His image). God calls us to be holy because He is holy (I Peter 1:16). The happiness people should be looking for will only be found in God’s holiness. When James talks about being perfect or complete, it only comes through trials. In the face of adversity, we need to stop trying to pray away every trial! Instead, we should ask God to take us through the trial instead of taking us out of the trial! We need to have enough faith in God to trust Him and let the trial run its course in our lives. Mature Christians will don the attitude of doing whatever it takes to grow in their Christian walk. We should realize not everything is easy or comfortable.

We’ll Value the Test When We Know…

It’s Preparing Us

Paul persuaded a runaway slave to return to his master. In his return, Paul asks the master to be reconciled to his servant. He noted how the servant in the past was unprofitable, but now he was profitable to both of them (Philemon 1:10–16). Paul called out that Onesimus would now be like a brother to both of them in the flesh and in the Lord. In sum, Paul identified that Onesimus was not the same man he was before he underwent a test. In our own trials, we should look at them and analyze how it’s preparing us for the future. Trials will prepare us for something greater!

We Can Trust God

Most of us honestly don’t trust God. The true test of spiritual maturity is not what we know how to do, but what we do when we don’t know what to do (I Timothy 4:10). Trust means being convinced about something, and in this case, convinced in God. Trusting God is a heart issue; our hearts need to be fixed on Him (Psalms 112:7). We must ask ourselves a question: can we choose to only trust in the tangible or in what we can’t always see? We need to develop our trust in God; this will happen through continuous trials in this lifetime.

It Will End Well

All things will work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We are tested many times against what God already knows about our potential. He is trying to help us see this for ourselves. Through the trials, and our growing endurance, the outcome will be positive. Remember, God won’t tempt us beyond what we’re able to bear (I Corinthians 10:13).

Conclusion

James says to value our adversity because it’s doing a good work in us. Because trying times are positive, we need to adjust our mindset. We must know adversity helps prepare us, trust in God, gives us assurance we will end well. God will bless those who patiently endure testing and temptation; afterward they will receive the crown of life (James 1:12).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 22, 2019 with Pastor Nave